A MEMBER of an environmental group is protesting the cutting of decades-old trees along the national highway for a supposed road widening project.
Sustines Magallanes of Task Force Macajalar said he was alarmed to see more than 30 trees already cut along the national highway in Barangays Tablon, Cugman, and Gusa.
"These are old trees -- acacia, mahogany. They have been there for many years," he said.
"Okay man ang clearing, parking, illegal settlers. Pero cutting and trimming the trees nga layo na sa dalan? Naa sa extreme side naman ang mga kahoy parallel sa poste sa kuryente. Dili na unta maapil," he added.
(It is ok if the clearing is for parking or illegal settlers. But cutting and trimming trees that are far from the road? They are on the extreme side of the road parallel to the lamp posts. They should have not been included.)
Magallanes said before the tree cutting, a public consultation must be done first.
He said this act violates President Rodrigo Duterte's mandate to "protect the environment and resources should not be compromised."
Magallanes said it is an irony that the government spends billions to plant trees but also cuts trees for its projects at the same time.
"The cutting of trees nga not necessary should be stopped, unless dying trees na. Pero they are all very healthy trees," he added.
(The unnecessary cutting of trees, unless those dying ones, should be stopped. But they are all very healthy trees.)
Magallanes also asked authorities where were the cut trees brought and who benefited or profited from it.
Meanwhile, Vinah Maghinay, spokesperson of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Northern Mindanao (DPWH-10), said the trees were cut with a permit from the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro)-Initao.
She said the DPWH usually cut trees for its road widening project.
City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro) chief Engineer Armen Cuenca, for her part, said the city was not informed by the tree cutting in the national highway.
He said he was only informed when the trees were already cut.
"Gipatawag na namo ang DPWH kay sa Cenro-Initao ang naghatag ug permit nga wala mi kabalo. Dili kami ang nag-allow niana," he said.
(We called the DPWH because permit was given for Cenro-Initao area without our knowledge. We did not allow that.)
"Pero kung naay gyud widening, wala tay mahimo. Pero kung pwede kung sa kilid na dili na unta maapil," he said.
(If there is really a road widening, we cannot do anything about it. However, if possible, trees near the side should not be included.