Cebu mayors asked to compel DENR to resume tree-cutting-A A +A
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
MAYORS of local government units in the first, second and third districts that are affected by the tree-cutting issue in the City of Naga have been asked to sign a petition to compel the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to proceed with the cutting of trees.
Gov. Hilario Davide III said he will also write Environment Secretary Ramon Paje asking him to reconsider his decision to revoke the cutting permit the agency issued to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), especially if proven that the trees endanger the lives of the public.
During a meeting at the Capitol last Friday, DENR 7 Isabelo Montejo said Paje ordered him to recall the permit issued to DPWH for the removal of seven diseased trees in Naga.
Montejo said they will continue to assess the century-old trees along the national highway in the south.
In a related development, Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia yesterday said he informed mayors in the first, second and third districts about his proposal to file a petition for mandamus before the court.
He said they were amenable to the move.
Garcia pointed out that the trees should also be cut to pave way for the road-widening project in the area.
“Most important (is having) sustainable environment. We can plant trees in other places to replace those trees that have been cut. Now we have to cut all those trees to pave way for progress kay (because of) road widening gud na,” he said.
Garcia said he will also ask the support of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Cebu chapter, which is headed by Tuburan Mayor Democrito Diamante.
In a separate interview, Diamante said he will discuss the matter when the LMP meets later this month.
He said he will also listen to the opinion of other mayors.
Meanwhile, DENR 7 will only remove the diseased trees if there is a court order.
Dr. Eddie Llamedo, DENR 7 spokesperson, said they have not received the petition proposed by Garcia.
He also confirmed that their Central Office in Manila issued a department-wide memorandum that will implement a nationwide revocation of all present and future special tree-cutting permits (STCPs) in the country and applications for STCPs in relation to road-widening projects.
Once the order is released for implementation, government projects that currently hold STCPs will be affected, he said.
Llamedo urged the DPWH and its subcontractors to integrate the presence of trees within their infrastructure projects.
The DENR’s decision to revoke the STCP for the removal of seven acacia trees in the City of Naga came after local conservation groups had urged the agency to stop the cutting.
Earlier, environmentalists threatened to sue local officials, including Davide, for the removal of the acacia trees.
“If they have basis, if they think they have basis to sue me and others, let them do it”, Davide said, adding that he is more concerned about public safety.
Davide said the Province had volunteered to replace the cut trees.
He said for every tree that will be removed, the Province will provide 100 seedlings.
Earth Justice System coordinator Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos yesterday said there is no conflict between public safety and the environment.
Lack of process
She said the issue is the lack of process.
“There should be a process, a consultation and this should not just be a closed-door session among government agencies. We need to know the facts,” she said.
She said they should know the status of the trees to ensure the sustainability of the ecosystem.
She said she was also concerned that there are so many trees that need to be cut.
Ramos said the public should also get involved to ensure that what the local government is doing will not endanger anyone. With Rosedelyn Catalan, USJ-R Mass Com intern
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 12, 2014.