CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The City Government stands that old trees must go if they pose risks to motorists and pedestrians, said Mayor Oscar Rodriguez.

This was following reports that a fallen tree caused injuries to passengers of a public utility jeep along the Baliti section of MacArthur Highway this city on Tuesday.

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The accident, where a Camachile tree fell on a cruising passenger jeepney along the highway, had alarmed businessman and concerned authorities regarding the safety of the highway, which is being widened from four lanes to six lanes by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Since the cutting of some trees there began early this year, environmentalists have been in an uproar, saying trees are life-savers and not killers. But observers noted that falling trees, even during summer, have caused accidents and loss of lives.

"This is a big reason for people to worry. But like what we have been doing, if it is a question of safety, uunahin naming ang safety ng tao bago iyung halaman," Rodriguez.

He also said: "You can replace and plant millions of trees. But you cannot replace human life. We are talking of the safety of people here. The priority will be the safety of people. And we will stand by our position."

Last week, Rodriguez and officials of the multi-sectoral governance council, the El Circulo Fernandino Foundation, Inc., DPWH and Highways and Department of Environment and Natural Resources, broke ground for the planting of one million trees in three years in various areas of the city, starting with the greening of Jose Abad Santos Avenue. (Jovi T. De Leon)