DENR 7 to sue road repair contractor of DPWH 7 for disappearance of trees

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Saturday, April 5, 2014


THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 will file a case against WT Construction over the disappearance of trees on S. Osmeña Blvd., Cebu City.

The DENR 7 issued a cease and desist order to prevent the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 and WT Construction, the contractor of the road project, from earth-balling the remaining trees in the area. In the order, the DENR 7 said DPWH and its contractor violated conditions in their agreement over the earth-balling of 143 trees along S. Osmeña Blvd.

Footages taken by closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the area show that WT Construction personnel were the ones who removed about 88 trees on the center island on S. Osmeña Blvd., from Pier 4 to Pier 6.

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Sun.Star Cebu tried but failed to get WT Construction owner Willy Te for comment yesterday.

City Administrator Lucelle Mercado said in a separate interview that she was able to talk to Te over the phone. Te told her that they have a DENR permit to remove the trees that were unhealthy.

“I think we have to look into that document,” she said, adding that WT Construction should be given a chance to explain.

Cebu City Councilor Nida Cabrera said DENR Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) forest management chief forester Raul Pasoc disclosed in a closed-door meeting that the department will sue WT Construction for allegedly violating environmental laws.

Those found responsible for the disappearance of the trees will be charged for violating Republic Act 3571 and Presidential Decree 953, which prohibits the cutting of trees and other shrubbery in public places, DENR 7 spokesperson Eddie Llamedo said.

Cabrera, chairperson of the committee on environment, said the DENR hopes to file the case on Monday.

Llamedo said Cenro personnel were still looking for the trees yesterday.

Apart from Cabrera, Cebu City Parks and Playgrounds Commission Chief Librado Macaraya was also in the meeting.

Cabrera said the Parks and Playgrounds Commission supports the filing of the case as the trees were planted and owned by the City Government.

The DENR 7 also ordered DPWH 7 Director Ador Canlas to submit a written explanation on the disappearance of the trees.

Cabrera said the City Council has summoned DPWH 7, WT Construction and DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources Office to appear in its executive session on April 14. She added that the City will decide on its next move based on the outcome of the meeting.

City Councilor Dave Tumulak said he will submit the footages from the CCTV cameras to Mayor Michael Rama.

Based on the video, Tumulak said the removal of trees started last March 26 until March 31.

It was done at night and the center island was also flattened with a backhoe.

Rama said he was surprised by the disappearance of the trees because to his knowledge, these were supposed to be earth-balled.

The trees were supposed to be transplanted at Plaza Independencia and the Senior Citizens' Park.

If the trees are not found, Cabrera urged DPWH 7 to replace the missing trees with 8,800 seedlings that will be planted in areas that will be identified by the DENR.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 05, 2014.

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