DENR’s turnaround

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Sunday, August 10, 2014


I DON’T know what happened to the minds of our Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials? Why make a sudden 180-degree turn on their decision to cut some century-old acacia trees along the national highway in the southern part of Cebu? It seems they don’t have what we call “political will” and they are not firm on their decision. In Tagalog, “laban-bawi.” In Cebuano, “milikoy man ilang utok.”

This, after the agency withdrew the cutting permit it issued to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to cut the trees that it had identified and assessed as “decayed” and “disease.” At any given time, especially during weather disturbances, these trees might collapse like what happened to two trees in San Fernando and Carcar City that suddenly toppled over last month. They are the ones saying that those trees posed hazards to motorists and commuters.

So why the change of heart?

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According to DENR 7 Executive Director Isabelo Montejo, they received an order from DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to temporarily halt the cutting of the trees pending further assessment by experts. Meaning to say, that when DENR 7 officials issued the cutting permit they did not inform their superiors of the decision? They were just doing it at their own level? If Paje had been informed and he gave the “go signal” through his people here, how come he changed his mind? Was he pressured by so-called environmentalists and conservationists or those groups who oppose the cutting of trees? Oh come on, Mr. Secretary. Take a stand.

The DENR, DPWH, Gov. Hilario Davide III and chief executives of the local government units of Naga, San Fernando and Carcar City had agreed to cut the trees which had been identified as decayed or having an incurable disease.

And we have seen what the decayed trees look like. The inner part was already hollow and can “give in” anytime. Okay, wait for the tree doctors. What if they find that the trees can no longer be saved?

What will they do? Put scaffoldings and iron grills around the trees? Weld or cement the trees? How will the tree doctors cure them?

I am for environmental protection. But we are talking here of century-old trees that pose hazards to the public. Choosing between saving the trees and the safety and lives of the public, I won’t hesitate to choose the latter. Life is more precious than saving “dying” trees.

Matthew 24:1-2: “Jesus left the temple and was walking when His disciples came up to Him to call his attention to its buildings. ‘Do you see all these things?’ he asked. “Truly, I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” To summarize it all, no one will last in this world. Walay molungtad ning kalibutan. Ang tanan adunay katapusan. Amen.

***

I was in Sitio Maomawan, Barangay Babag, Cebu City yesterday attending its annual fiesta celebration upon the invitation of my good friend, Fr. Rommel Mark Barneso, who has just been designated as the church’s administrator.

The church, with St. John Mary Vianny as its patron saint, is a community mission station and is still under the Guadalupe parish. The Cebu Archdiocese is still waiting for the owners of the lots where the church stands to donate the land before it will declare the church as an independent parish. If that happens, Fr. Mark will be its first parish priest.

The place is nice with a good rural environment and the people are very hospitable.

Bishop Jose Palma officiated the pontifical mass around 3 p.m. And you know already the Filipino tradition in celebrating fiestas, especially in rural areas. Kumbira gyud. Puwerting busoga ni Atty. Eddie Barrita. Kaon pa, bring house pa gyud.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 11, 2014.

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