Cutting of trees responsibility of DPHW: mayor

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014


TWO years after the permit to cut the trees was issued, seven century-old acacia trees on the highway in the City of Naga have yet to be cut.

City of Naga Mayor Valdemar Chiong yesterday urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 to remove the trees, saying it is their job to do so.

The special tree-cutting permit was issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 to DPWH 7 in 2012 yet.

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DENR suspended the permit on the same year. It expired last April.

But Eddie Llamedo, DENR 7 public information officer, said that even without a permit, DPWH 7, the Naga City Government and the Municipal Government of San Fernando can cut down the trees any time.

Different circumstance

He said a permit is no longer necessary since they already declared that there is an immediate need to cut them down due to the danger the deceased trees pose to passing motorists.

The seven acacia trees in Naga and the 41 trees of different species lining the highway in San Fernando town are among those that need to be removed after an assessment by the DENR 7 last week showed that they are in severe decay.

Llamedo said they did not allow the cutting of the trees in 2012 because based on their assessment that year, the trees were still healthy.

"We have already allowed the cutting of the trees immediately after assessing them because we found that the trees pose risks to public safety," he said during the Association of Government Information Officers forum yesterday.

He said the decay may have worsened in the last two years due to aggressive piercing of the trunks and other forms of neglect.

There may have been no proper treatment and correct pruning of the trees, and no proper maintenance and care program.

Llamedo said it's the DPWH's and the local government unit's responsibility to remove the trees, since the DENR only does technical assessment.

Part of the contract

The need to cut the trees was highlighted when a century-old acacia tree toppled and crushed a dump truck in Barangay Balud, San Fernando last July 9. The felled tree blocked the entire road and stalled traffic in the south for at least three hours.

As early as 2012, DPWH 7 and officials of Naga and San Fernando had asked for permission to remove the trees to make way for the road-widening project of DPWH. However, environmentalists and the DENR opposed their move.

In a separate interview, Mayor Chiong said he will just wait for DPWH 7 to cut the trees. He noted that the removal of obstructions on the site of any DPWH project is included in their contract.

"That is part of their budget. Ayaw na ipasa-pasa kay ila man ng trabaho (It's their job)," he told Sun.Star Cebu.

Of the 41 trees that need to be removed immediately in San Fernando, three are century-old acacia trees.

Their trunk has a diameter of at least 100 centimeters that is why DENR 7 classified them as a hazard to the public.

The other 38 trees are iba, mango and narra trees.

All seven trees in Naga that still need to be removed are century-old acacia trees. Two acacia trees were already removed last year.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 23, 2014.

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