DENR laws must jibe with local ordinances

SunStar File Photo
SunStar File Photo

A DAVAO City councilor addresses the issue of trees that were cut down along Candelaria corner Maya streets in Barangay 76-A, Bucana, Ecoland during his privilege speech on Tuesday, October 3, at the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

Councilor Temujin “Tek” Ocampo, chair of the committee on environment and natural resources, said that it has come to his attention that several Dabawenyos, including Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa) Secretary Mabel Sunga Acosta, expressed their concern over the cutting of the trees. He highlighted the importance of trees especially in lowering the effects of climate change as well as lessening the impact of global warming in Davao. 

“Cutting trees could take only a few minutes, but its effects on our environment are long-lasting. Further, planting and growing trees while, hence, we have to assess and weigh carefully the advantages and disadvantages before proceeding in cutting them down,” Ocampo said.

The trees that were cut down at Ecoland were given a cutting permit and were supported by a Barangay Resolution interposing no objection to cutting them. The resolution revealed that the trees were inspected and that based on their findings there was a need to cut them for they posed a threat to the structure since their branches extended to the building and the roots damaged the concrete pavement.   

Ocampo questioned City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) head Engr. Marivic Reyes about the tree cutting. 

In a separate report, Cenro revealed that they only recommended that the trees merely need trimming and that there is no need to cut them since they are not a threat to the surrounding structure and the people.

“We are not dismissing the issue for the application of the permit to cut them when the legal process was followed or when necessary in times of extreme emergency in order to save lives,” Ocampo said.

In an ambush interview with Ocampo, he said that there is a need to harmonize the local ordinances, particularly the Tree Protection Ordinance with the laws that the DENR and Cenro are upholding. 

“Nga para kung naa man silay putulon na kahoy iagi sa nato ug assessment sa duha ka opisina. Although naay nahatag atoang Cenro nga murag na overide nila (So that if they have to cut a tree, they will go through the assessment of the two offices although, it seems that Cenro has overridden it),” Ocampo said.

Ocampo expressed that Cenro had sent a letter to him stating that the trees were not part of the tree protection ordinance.

“You know I really beg to disagree tungod kay whether or not wala siya ma-specify we need to protect our natural resources, natural grown trees nga naa didto kung kana delikado na kaayo kana masabtan nato na but then again in other places, in other countries, in other cities, in the Philippines ang tao may naga-adjust sa kahoy pero kita diri ang kahoy intawun ang mu-adjust sa atoa (You know I really beg to disagree because whether or not the tree is not specified we need to protect our natural resources, natural grown trees that are there but if they really pose a threat, that we understand, but then again in other places, in other countries, in other cities, in the Philippines it is the people who adjust to trees, but here it is the trees that adjust to the people),” Ocampo said.

Meanwhile, in an official statement of the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability, Inc. (IDIS) they emphasized the importance of trees especially when the Heat Index in the city ranges from 39 to 41 degrees celsius. They also pointed out how they want the DENR-Cenro to look for other options when cutting a tree is involved.

“We urge the DENR-Cenro to exhaust other options like trimming before issuing cutting permits. And it’s about time that the government should invest in advanced technologies for tree relocation if they are really committed to environmental protection and combating climate change,” IDIS Knowledge Management Officer Yvette Balayon-Mahinay said. RGP


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