City Hall to face 3 violations for cutting trees in Guba

FELLED FOR A CEMETERY. Employees of the Cebu City government’s Department of Engineering and Public Works carry what remain of the 389 trees in Sitio Catives, Barangay Guba that were cut down to make way for a public cemetery. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Central Visayas has issued a notice of violation against the City for cutting down the trees without a permit. (Amper Campaña)

THE Cebu City government may be facing three violations over the cutting down of trees in one of the city’s mountainth barangays to make way for a cemetery for Covid-19 casualties.

Aside from cutting trees without a permit, the Cebu City government could face possible violations for initiating moves to develop a five-hectare property in Barangay Guba without a Protected Area Management Plan (PAMP) and without applying for an environmental compliance certificate (ECC), said Dr. Eddie Llamedo, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Central Visayas (DENR 7) planning and management division chief.

Llamedo told reporters that they have found no records to show that the City had applied for a tree cutting permit or submitted a development plan before the DENR’s Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) that has jurisdiction in Barangay Guba, which is under the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL).

He also said there has been no clearance issued yet in relation to the construction of the cemetery.

The DENR ordered a stop to the cutting of trees in the area last Thursday, July 9, 2020.

The DENR confiscated 389 mahogany trees, which are now at the Guba Barangay Hall for safekeeping.

For the issuance of a tree cutting permit, Llamedo said the City needs to submit an application letter, a development plan, proof of ownership, and endorsements from the barangay or city interposing no objection to the cutting of trees.

The City also needs to apply for another permit for the construction of a cemetery, especially since it is located within a protected area, said Llamedo.

It also needs to submit a development plan so members of the PAMB’s executive committee can evaluate and review the project.

Llamedo said the Board will also look at whether the proposed project has mitigating measures to address the social and environmental impacts pursuant to the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Environmental Impact Assessment System Law.

Earlier, Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, who is currently sponsoring an ordinance for the establishment of the Cebu City Botanical Memorial Garden, said Raul Pasoc of the DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) gave a go signal to Cebu City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. to proceed with the site development.

SunStar Cebu tried to reach Casas to get his side, but to no avail.

Llamedo, though, said verbal permission does not guarantee a go signal to proceed to cut the trees.

He said the office “acts on the basis of official documents that came to us for action.”

Llamedo said it was even Pasoc who issued the apprehension or seizure order for the cutting of the 389 mahogany trees without a cutting permit.

The administrative adjudication proceedings are scheduled on July 27, 2020 to give the Cebu City Government a chance to explain why it cut the trees without a permit.

A notice of violation was issued to the City on July 10 by the CCPL officers to stop any development activities in the area and explain in writing in 15 days why it cut the trees without a permit.

Llamedo said that based on the July 10 meeting, it was agreed that the matter would be referred to the DENR 7 Legal Division, the City would present its development plan over the area, and a meeting would be convened on July 15.

The City is set to build a five-hectare cemetery in Guba to address the concern that most of the city’s public cemeteries are now either full or nearly full due to the increasing number of fatalities due to Covid-19. Cebu City had a total of 356 Covid-19 deaths and 3,240 active Covid-19 cases as of July 10, 2020. (JJL)


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