CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama wants the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 director to be given blanket authority to approve all tree-cutting permits for road projects in preparation for an international summit and a Catholic congress.

Rama is in Manila today to request DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to authorize DENR 7 Director Isabelo Montejo to decide on applications for tree-cutting permits.

City Hall and the Department of Public Works and Highways are undertaking several road works and beautification projects that require the cutting of trees.

The projects are in preparation for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit meetings next month and the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) next year.

Rama said the process of applying for a tree-cutting permit will be shortened if it is done at the local level.

“We’re talking about preparations for the Apec Summit and improving traffic conditions, and we cannot afford to have all this bureaucracy in bringing our concerns to the central office. This would mean giving the regional director blanket authority to handle these things here because we are following a time frame,” Rama said in his news conference yesterday.

He said that the City is pressed for time to finish the projects because the Apec Summit meetings in Cebu will start on Aug. 24.

Center islands

Among the projects awaiting DENR’s action is the cutting of some trees on the center islands on Pope John Paul Ave. (Juan Luna Ave.) and some trees on Escario St. and M. Velez St. in Capitol area.

Rama also wants to push back the property line of roadside lots on Gov. Cuenco Ave. to make way for the widening of roads, which would require the cutting of trees on the sidewalk and on the Capitol-owned lot there.

The road-widening project is seen to improve traffic flow on Gov. Cuenco Ave., Salinas Drive and Pope John Paul Ave., where the IEC venue is.

Also yesterday, the Parks and Playgrounds Commission gave an update on their beautification project across the City in preparation for the international events.

Dr. Librado Macaraya, commission chairman, said they are relying on the generosity of the Cebu Parks and Playgrounds Foundation and some private donors.

The commission needs some P500,000 to P1 million for the purchase of plants for the center islands and sidewalks of Osmeña Blvd., Pope John Paul Ave. and Salinas Drive, all the way to Marco Polo Hotel.

Sidewalks and center islands of roads leading to and around Radisson Blu Hotel will also be improved.

Some of the summit meetings will be held in Radisson and Marco Polo, which will also be home to some delegates for the duration of the summit.

Since the commission has no special fund for the Apec and IEC preparations, Macaraya said they got help from the Lhuillier Group for the improvement of the Fuente-Osmeña circle.

The Parks and Playgrounds Foundation also gave them some P40,000 for the purchase of plants.