Editorial: Sobering up on those trees

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Thursday, July 24, 2014


THERE is one thing missing as attention of officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 and the local government units (LGUs) of Naga, San Fernando and Carcar is focused on those “century-old” trees that line the portion of the highway in that part of south Cebu.

We are referring to the voices of environmentalists, netizens and other government officials who, just several months ago, were vigorous in their opposition to the cutting of some of those trees when the plan was first announced because of road-widening works in the area.

An example: In October last year, the Cebu Provincial Board asked the DENR and DPWH to defer the cutting of trees along the highway in Carcar City. The PB supposedly wants a heritage conservation plan in place prior to the cutting.

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Gov. Hilario Davide III, in reaction, said he will meet with DENR, DPWH and those opposed to the cutting to find a middle ground. He noted that there is a need to balance the need to preserve the heritage with the need to address the “hazards that these trees will cause.”

Before that, much drama surrounded the Naga to Carcar road-widening project because this entailed the cutting of some of the “century-old” trees in the area.

Environmentalists and netizens jumped into the fray and made noise even to the point of opposing the giving by the DENR of the permit to cut some of the trees that are in a state of decay. They even questioned the reliability of the DENR claim that the trees had decayed.

Just this month, an acacia tree believed to be more than a century old fell on a passing dump truck in Barangay Balud, San Fernando injuring one person. The fallen tree blocking the highway caused a traffic jam that lasted for several hours. The accident prompted a reiteration of the previous DENR recommendation to cut the decaying trees.

This time around, no noise of protest can be heard, proving that the accident needed to happen first before people would be forced to come up with a sober and better appraisal of the plan. But even without the noise, officials of DENR, DPWH and concerned government LGUs are still in inaction mode, treating the task like the proverbial hot potato.

Will they move only after the next decaying “century-old” tree falls, this time with more disastrous consequences?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 25, 2014.

Opinion

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