Editorial: Those missing trees

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Friday, April 4, 2014

IT'S lesson environmentalists, the public and concerned government officials should note when they deal with the plan of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to expand the road between the cities of Naga and Carcar.

We are referring to what happened recently when DPWH started rehabilitation work on Serging Osmeña Blvd. and in the process violated what has been agreed on the matter of removing the trees planted in the road’s center island. Those trees have disappeared altogether.

It turned out that the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) earlier granted DPWH’s request to remove the trees, some 125 of them, from the center island because these will be affected by the road project. But the permission came with certain conditions.


Among these: the trees won’t be cut but earth-balled and the earth-balling activity should be strictly supervised by the Cebu City Parks and Playgrounds Commission and DENR 7; the earth-balled trees should be transplanted to such areas as the Mahiga Creek, San Pedro Calungsod Shrine, etc.; and DPWH should replace every tree that dies with 100 seedlings that should be planted in areas identified by DENR 7.

The conditions were good in theory as far as environmental protection is concerned.

But implementation was another thing altogether. The trees are missing and, judging by the discovery of 40 trees that were already chopped and strung, may have been cut into lumber or firewood.

In the project involving the widening of the road between Naga and Carcar, DENR already gave DPWH permission to cut down 42 trees, including eight century-old acacia trees, which are said to be in advanced stages of decay. However, another 96 trees should be earth-balled while another 16 century-old trees should be preserved.

Considering what has happened in the Serging Osmeña Blvd. project, can DPWH be relied upon to follow what is stipulated in a special tree-cutting permit (STCP) and can DENR, through its Cenro, be relied upon to monitor an STCP’s implementation?

Both DENR 7 and DPWH 7 officials said they were surprised at the removal of the trees.

DPWH 7 is even looking the way of the contractor, WT Construction. Even then, the conclusion we can get from this isn’t flattering to these two government agencies.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 05, 2014.


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