Envi group snubbed by City?

A local environment group revealed that it personally sent a letter as well as email to Davao City Mayor, Vice Mayor, and other councilors regarding the planned cutting of 200 trees affected by SIDC project
FINALLY. After setbacks, the Samal Island – Davao City Connector (SIDC) Project reached another milestone as President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. leads its groundbreaking  on October 27, 2022. DPWH PHOTO
FINALLY. After setbacks, the Samal Island – Davao City Connector (SIDC) Project reached another milestone as President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. leads its groundbreaking on October 27, 2022. DPWH PHOTO

A DAVAO City-based environment group said that they had “sounded the alarm” on the tree-cutting permit and plans for the Samal Island-Davao City Connector (SIDC) Project in a letter they sent to the Mayor, Vice Mayor, and City Councilors on March 27, 2024.

Sustainable Davao Movement (SDM), an advocate group for green space campaign,  revealed that they personally sent a letter and sent an email to the offices of Davao City Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, Vice Mayor Melchor Quitain, and other councilors. The group said they also sent a letter to Councilor Temujin “Tek” Ocampo, the chair of the committee on environment and natural resources, “begging for more time for the corals and trees that would be affected by the SIDC project to be heard”.

“We were begging for time for the reefs and the trees to be heard. We sent another letter addressed to the Envi Committee Chair himself. The only response since April was no reply,” SDM said in their statement.

SDM raised concern over officials' statements that the LGU can do nothing in the face of a national project.

“That there seems to be a feigning of ignorance is unconscionable, both for the trees on the land and the centennial corals that Chinese contractors have been destroying,” SDM said.

This concern was raised after Ocampo said in a previous media forum that 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.

Councilor Alberto Ungab, who was also present at the forum, said that national laws govern the local government units (LGU); hence, they cannot react to the tree-cutting. 

A notice in the area stated that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Community Environment Natural Resources Office-Davao Region (DENR-Cenro-Davao) had issued a cutting permit for the 199 trees.

The cutting permit number was DENRXI-DC-0321-2024-017 and was approved on March 21, 2024. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Unified Project Management Office Bridges Management Cluster requested the permit. 

However, Ocampo said he is currently retracing the documents submitted by DPWH since he needs clarification on how these things transpired. The councilor said that he would personally look into how they were able to acquire the cutting permit, the reason behind it, and whether they submitted a commitment plan to replant 200 trees for every tree that will be cut down. 

In the letter sent by SDM, they raised their concerns about the 223 trees that will be affected by the SIDC project, saying that these trees were covered by the Davao City Heritage Tree Ordinance, which aims to preserve trees that significantly benefit the city and the environment. 

“Aren’t these 223 trees covered by the Davao City Heritage Trees Protection Ordinance? And how might this affect our local Green Space requirement according to our Comprehensive Land Use Plan & Zoning Ordinance of 2018-2028 in terms of our shared goals of securing greenery in the city?” SDM wrote in their letter addressed to Duterte. 

The group also suggested that the option by the Japanese in 2016, which has a lesser cost of P16 billion and has a shorter crossing than the P23 billion Davao-Samal bridge by China, is better since the China-funded one would damage the remaining corals and trees on both sides of the Davao Gulf.

“Why not plan better and realign the bridge? There was a better studied option by Japan in 2016 that cost P16B and has a shorter crossing. Why insist on China's more expensive and most destructive option?” SDM wrote in their statement.

The SIDC project, which is supported by China's Official Development Assistance, is a component of the Davao Regional Development Plan and entails building a four-lane bridge that connects Davao City with Samal. The bridge will have landing points at Samal Circumferential Road in Barangay Limao, Samal, and R. Castillo, as well as the Daang Maharlika junction in Davao City. RGP

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