CEBU

Briones: Vilifying the DENR, DPWH

On the go

THERE has been so much brouhaha over the cutting of trees by the roadside, it prompted one lawyer to file a petition for a Writ of Kalikasan with urgent prayer for the issuance of a temporary protection order before the Court of Appeals to stop the practice.

The respondents are the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)--for issuing the tree cutting permit through the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) Cebu City--and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)--for cutting the trees on Don Gil Garcia St. in Barangay Capitol Site which were in the middle of the road after this was widened.

Environmentalist Bejanmin Cabrido Jr., however, failed to point out that the DPWH is obligated to replace the felled trees by contributing seedlings to the DENR that will be planted somewhere else.

In fact, I just read that the DENR and the DPWH in Western Visayas had agreed to make tree planting/growing along roadsides and highways a standard component of all road construction and improvement projects.

According to the DENR’s website, “the program will not only complement the greening efforts of the DENR, such as the National Greening Program, but also add to the program of the government on climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

Under the agreement, “the DENR 6 shall assist the DPWH 6 in the survey and mapping of identified areas and in determination of appropriate species to be planted, provide the seedlings required during the tree planting activities, provide technical assistance and maintain a close coordination with the DPWH in the implementation of the activity. Further, the DENR shall assist in the conduct of periodic monitoring and documentation of the planting sites.

“On the other hand, the DPWH shall coordinate with the DENR 6 in the identification and conduct of survey and mapping of roadsides that will be subjected to tree planting activities, undertake tree planting and tree growing as an integral part of the regular road maintenance program of the DPWH. They shall also closely coordinate with the DENR in the implementation of the activity as well as conduct period monitoring and documentation of the established plantations.”

DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Demetrio Ignacio Jr. said the initiative was a first in the country and should be replicated in other regions nationwide.

Perhaps, Cabrido should urge the DENR 7 and the DPWH 7 to follow Western Visayas’ example. After all, the trees on Don Gil Garcia St. had already been cut. He could make sure that the DPWH 7 had replaced those trees with saplings and see to it that these were planted.

Last month, the DENR 7 released a press statement saying it “came up with revisions of its tree cutting rules after delays in the processing of tree cutting permits were identified as one of the causes of the slow implementation of the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program.”

Granted, trees by the roadside look nice. They provide shade to pedestrians. However, they are few and far between, so to speak, and hardly make a dent in the fight to stem global warming.

Why not focus instead on the indiscriminate felling of trees to make way for subdivisions or building projects? I remember there used to be several acacias at the entrance of the Cebu Business Park at the corner of Archbishop Reyes Ave. but these were cut to make way for skyscrapers.

Better yet, why doesn’t Cabribo urge the local government units of Metro Cebu to set aside land for a park that everyone can enjoy?

The way I see it, the lawyer has been barking up the wrong tree.


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