AN IRKED councilor and incoming Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan is moving for amendments on tree cutting guidelines as well as regulations on how lumber is disposed after a contractor carted away the 49 felled trees at the Moldex site for a mere P50.
During the city council session Monday, June 3, guests from Moldex Realty, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) revealed a private contractor was hired to cut the 49 trees at the Moldex site and was likewise allowed to dispose of the lumber after paying a P50 transport fee.
Among the trees that fell were one 70 and 60–year–old trees, nine 50–year–olds, 20 40–year–olds, eight 30–year–olds and four 20–year–olds Benguet Pine, and Alnus trees that include a 40–year–old, two 30–year-olds and three 20–year–old.
A policy by the DENR legalized the act because the trees in the Moldex site were naturally planted, deeming disposal to the decision of the realty firm.
Ralph Pablo, DENR regional director said if the trees naturally grew on site, the fallen trees will be the property of the government.
On May 11, 2019 the Watershed and Water Resources Research and Development Extension Center reported the trees being applied for tree cutting permit are planted and not naturally grown trees.
Olowan said trees are of importance to the City of Baguio and should be enlightened on aspects like disposal and guidelines on tree cutting.
Pablo faced the city council to explain the process of how Moldex managed to cut 49 trees legally, presenting a timeline dating back to Aug 17, 2018 when Moldex Reality requested for tree cutting permit with a letter request for 49 trees within its property in Bakakeng Central.
The request came with approved building permits from the CBAO and site development plan, environment compliance certificate, validated TCT, a barangay resolution and, minutes of the public consultation with a certification from Bakakeng Central barangay Chief Dan Daniel the trees being applied for tree cutting permit is within the property of the realty firm.
Less than a month later, on September 6, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan issued a clearance to Moldex to cut trees in their property in Bakakeng Central.
After a year, on May 3, the cutting of trees was carried out by Moldex under the supervision of representatives from CENRO Baguio, CEPMO and the office of the city mayor.
Pablo said the DENR-CAR issued a tree cutting permit in favor of Moldex Realty for 43 Benguet Pine and six Alnus trees with a total volume of 22.95 cubic meters with Moldex required to the firm to turnover 2,450 seedlings as replacement.
The policy of the DENR mandates replacement trees for planted trees at one tree to 50 seedlings, while naturally planted trees will yield higher replacement set a one is to 00 seedlings.
Olowan said the felled trees under the City Environment Code has to be donated to public school or public needs, along with a performance bond which has to be posted by Moldex, citing a contrast in policy with the DENR and the city laws.
According to the DENR, inventory of remaining species at the Moldex area, there are 320 trees in the entire property with 117 saplings of different species and 62 species about to grow.
The city council summoned Moldex and DENR to aid legislation on the matter after close to fifty trees were cut eliciting public condemnation.