Dream of a wider road in Naga, Carcar-A A +A
Monday, October 14, 2013
THERE is no question that we need to upgrade our highways to cope with the increase in traffic attendant to a booming economy. There is also no doubt that we have to protect our environment and preserve our heritage. When these two equally important concerns clash, as they oftentimes do, finding a win-win solution can be a daunting challenge.
Take the case of the widening of a section of the national highway between Naga and Carcar. A “baby” of former Rep. Eduardo Gullas, the project continues to suffer from what appears to be interminable delay because it would entail the cutting of trees, some of which more than a hundred years old.
Recently, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced that it had given the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) clearance to cut some trees that stand in the way widening under very stringent conditions: only 42 trees will be cut, the rest will have to be earth-balled or stay where they are; the DPWH should plant 13,800 trees and monitor their growth for three years; and they have to secure the consent of the affected barangays.
Environmentalists were not impressed, however. They do not want the trees touched. The ecology and our heritage dictate that. The wider highway can wait.
Eddie Llamedo, the DENR public information officer, told us on Frankahay Ta! yesterday morning that there used to be 25 acacia trees that could be considered part of our heritage because they were more than 100 years old. But two of them already died from old age and of the 23 left, only seven will be cut along with 35 other trees that cannot be earth-balled because they’re more than 26 centimeters in diameter.
The 16 centenarian acacias will be left where they are, Llamedo revealed. The DPWH will have to re-design the highway, never mind if it will result in the road becoming narrower in certain stretches.
But why only 16? Why were the seven singled out for cutting? Because they’re dying, according to Llamedo, a condition that has resulted in the trees’ reduced sequestration capacity of carbon dioxide, reduced capacity to impound water and increased risk to public safety. These trees can fall down anytime without announcement, he said.
Two century-old acacia trees did fall down last year and this year. DENR critics are not convinced, however, that the seven others are similarly decaying and could go anytime. “We need to have an independent study done on that,” one of their leaders was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, another leader disclosed that they will ask the National Historical Commission to issue a cease-and-desist order on the cutting of trees. There was also mention of applying for an Environment Protection Order.
What all these amount to is that Gullas’ dream of a wider highway will continue to be a dream. The DENR has not even clarified whether the DPWH can start touching the trees after they have complied with all the requirements or whether they have to wait for three years during which they have to make sure that 80 percent of the 13,8000 trees that they are required to plant survive.
We can and will wait. We don’t have a choice.
But what if one or all of the seven decaying trees suddenly drop dead on someone or a vehicle carrying many people? Who will pay for the damage?
I read Mike T. Limpag’s column (Fair Play) yesterday and I agree with him that the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (Cesafi) should revisit their two-year residency rule because it is unfair to a player who, under Cesafi rules, only has five playing years. If he’s unhappy with his current team, why should the league chain him to it? Secondly, the rule could result in the exodus of players to Manila. It will not be good for the league.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 15, 2013.