Briones: Replacements

On the go

THERE you have it.

For every tree that has to be removed permanently because it obstructs a project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the agency gives the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) money so the latter can replace what the former is forced to take away

“We understand the importance of the trees but, of course, we need to balance the two things: the environmental conservation and the development. That’s why we have these mitigating programs. We are obliged to replace 100 seedlings for every one tree affected. We follow this because that’s part of the guidelines imposed by the DENR,” said Ali Mauna in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Mauna is in charge of securing tree cutting permits from the DENR for the DPWH.

Okay, to that so-called environmentalist lawyer who filed a petition for a Writ of Kalikasan with urgent prayer for the issuance of a temporary protection order before the Court of Appeals in Cebu City on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019 to stop more roadside trees from being felled, was he aware of this arrangement?

I mean, if he was, then why file the petition? Did it pain him so much to see those trees that stood in the middle of the road on Don Gil Garcia St. in Barangay Capitol Site in Cebu City fall victim to the chainsaw two weeks ago?

They did use chainsaws, right?

According to Mauna, the DPWH had a budget of more than P100 million to replace trees that were affected by the agency’s projects last year alone.

I assume Mauna was referring to just Central Visayas and not the entire country. Either way, we’re talking about a lot of money that went to the purchase of millions of seedlings. I mean, how much do seedlings cost nowadays?

Again, I’m working on the assumption that the DPWH actually downloaded the money to the DENR and the DENR actually used the money to buy seedlings. After all, we only have Mauna’s word that this transpired.

By the way, how many seedlings were planted in 2018 to replace all those trees affected by projects of the DPWH 7 in the region? How much did the whole thing cost? I want to see a proper accounting of the transaction.

More than P100 million could be P1 more or P100 million more.

And where were the seedlings planted? How many survived?

According to Mauna, the DPWH and the DENR agreed to monitor them in the next five years. But if half of the seedlings die within this period, the money spent on them and the effort it took to plant them will have been wasted.

Maybe the petitioner should look into that.


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