Editorial: Praying tragedy won’t happen

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Friday, August 8, 2014

HERE we go again.

In a meeting with Gov. Hilario Davide III yesterday, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 Director Isabelo Montejo announced that his boss, Secretary Ramon Paje, has ordered the revocation of permits to cut trees in the Naga City to Carcar City corridor.

This means that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 will no longer cut the three remaining diseased acacia trees still standing along the south national highway.


Four of the seven diseased trees have already been cut despite protests from so-called environmentalists led by Fr. Robert Reyes. But the cutting of the remaining three trees was stopped after a small group of so-called environmentalists disrupted the effort.

The cutting of the seven diseased trees was allowed after two other acacias toppled along the highway, averting tragedy only because of the timing of their fall. But the toppled trees damaged vehicles and some makeshift structures and caused massive traffic jams.

It was not known what made Paje decide to revoke the tree-cutting permit but it must be because of the lobbying by so-called environmentalists at the DENR national office level. It was not also known what kind of information was fed to Paje.

But Montejo did mention something about a “tree pathologist” parachuting to Cebu to find out if the finding of DENR 7 foresters that the three remaining acacia trees are really diseased. That’s an insult to DENR 7 people but they have to heed their boss.

Interestingly, the big and legitimate environmentalist groups seem to be silent about the recent tree-cutting move. Is this because they understand the point of DENR 7 and other concerned sectors? Or is this because they know something that the so-called environmentalists that blocked the cutting operation are ignorant of?

The sole purpose of the tree-cutting operation was not because DPWH 7 is widening the road. It seems to have decided to do their work by bypassing those trees. The trees were cut because they already pose danger to commuters and the people in the area.

Davide, when apprised of the development, told those who attended yesterday’s meeting that their next move may have to pray that no tree will topple again soon. Resorting to prayers is not the ideal when action could have been done. But what can they do now?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 09, 2014.


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