THE widening of the Cebu South Road continues despite setbacks over the alleged cutting of century-old trees that line the highway from the cities of Naga to Carcar last year.

In a press conference yesterday, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 Director Ador Canlas said they’ve complied with the order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 not to cut any tree that will be affected by the project.

He said they’ve implemented a new design to ensure this. Instead of removing the trees, Canlas said they decided to build the road around them.

They’ve also put an in-lay outside the road. “This could be used as a bike lane or a jogging lane,” he said.

Checking for compliance

The new design is similar to what they did at the Mactan circumferential road, where the agency encountered trees on both sides of the road, he said.

He admitted that while DENR’s policy is too rigorous, they understand that there is a need to strike a balance between development and the environment.

In a separate interview, DENR 7 spokesperson Eddie Llamedo said they have yet to check if the DPWH 7 has complied with the conditions they’ve set, especially on replacing felled trees.

Last year, the DENR 7 set conditions before it would issue a special tree cutting permit (STCP) to the DPWH 7.

It said the DPWH 7 has to earthball 96 trees and preserve 16 century-old trees. The DPWH 7 also has to plant 13,800 indigenous trees along the affected route and to ensure the trees survive for three years.

Llamedo said they’ve approved the STCP but won’t release it until they’ve determined that the DPWH 7 has complied with their conditions.