Davao City councilor unaware of 200 trees cut for SIDC Project

SP requests clarification from DENR amid national law oversight
Davao-Samal Bridge
Davao-Samal BridgeDPWH

A DAVAO City Councilor said that they had not received any communication from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regarding the cutting of about 200 trees along Lanang, Davao City, for the Samal Island-Davao City Connector (SIDC) Project.

First District Councilor Temujin “Tek” Ocampo, chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said he was unaware that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) had started cutting the 199 trees to make way for the SIDC project.

“Wala, I have to ask Cenro Davao og naa ba, they don’t need to ask for permission to inform us because national project kasi (None, I have to ask Cenro Davao if they have it. They don’t need to ask for permission to inform us because it is a national project),” he said during the Aprobado sa Konseho, on Tuesday morning, May 14, 2024 at the Sangguniang Panlungsod. 

He said they cannot stop a national project unless the City Government of Davao vehemently opposes it and all the councilors are against it. However, most councilors support it because it would benefit the city.

Councilor Alberto Ungab echoed Ocampo’s sentiments, stating that national laws govern the local government units (LGU), hence they cannot react to the tree cutting.

Ocampo highlighted the city's ordinance on tree cutting, Ordinance No. 0784-21 Series of 2021, also known as the Heritage Ordinance, which aims to preserve trees that significantly benefit the city and the environment. This legislation covers trees that provide shade, cooling, and temperature reduction in their surroundings.

Previously, the DPWH-Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) reported to the 20th Council that they would replace and plant around 200 trees for every tree cut down. 

Ocampo said they would monitor the agency's tree planting to ensure compliance.

“So kani ug naa silay maputol atoa gyud na siyang singlon, it will be monitored kay mao man ang balaod. Kung isa ang putlan magtanom ka’g daghan to combat carbon footprint kay daghan na kaayo ang pollutants (So if they cut down trees, we will hold them accountable and monitor them because that is the law. If one tree is cut, they should plant many more to combat the carbon footprint because there are too many pollutants),” he said.

Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis) expressed dismay over the 199 trees cut down for SIDC. 

Lawyer Mark Peñalver, executive director of Idis, underscored that every tree counts, especially given the city's extreme temperatures, and urged the LGUs of Davao and Samal to consider the project's environmental impact.

A notice in the area indicated that the DENR-Community Environment Natural Resources Office-Davao Region (DENR-Cenro-Davao) granted a permit to cut 199 trees. 

The permit, DENRXI-DC-0321-2024-017, was approved on March 21, 2024, following a request by the DPWH-Unified Project Management Office Bridges Management Cluster.

The SIDC project, part of the Davao Regional Development Plan, involves constructing a four-lane bridge from Davao City to Samal, funded by China’s Official Development Assistance. 

The bridge will have landing points at Samal Circumferential Road in Barangay Limao, Samal, and R. Castillo and the Daang Maharlika junction in Davao City. RGP

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