Editorial: Helping nurture trees

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Dr. Roger Guzman, the retired forestry professor who inspected the acacia trees in the City of Naga that Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 experts declared as diseased, talked about the need for local government units (LGUs) to help in nurturing trees.

Incidentally, Guzman didn’t contradict the DENR 7 foresters’ finding that the trees are diseased. He only differs on whether the trees can still recover and on the need for “surgery.” (DENR 7 said yesterday that it stands by its earlier finding on the trees and noted that Guzman only inspected the trees for a short period.)

But Guzman’s call for LGUs to help nurture trees has become awkward considering the manner the solving of the problem on the diseased acacia trees lining the highway from Naga to Carcar City has been bungled by DENR 7 and so-called environmentalists like him.


The response of City of Naga Mayor Valdemar Chiong and Carcar City Mayor Nicepuro Apura is illustrative of this. When told about Guzman’s recommendation that the trees should be treated instead of being cut, Chiong and Apura expressed unwillingness to fund such an endeavor. Apura was blunt: let those opposing the cutting of the trees shoulder the expenses for the treatment.

The problem on the diseased trees occupied the minds of concerned local government officials, DENR 7 and even the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which was eventually tasked to do the cutting, after two acacias fell and caused damage and injuries, aside from inconveniencing travelers.

After weeks of consultation among the stakeholders, a consensus was reached to start the cutting of the seven diseased acacias. But after the cutting of four of the seven trees came so-called environmentalists protesting the move and DENR Secretary Ramon Paje humoring them.

An activity that officials of concerned LGUs, DPWH and DENR 7 spent time and effort planning got derailed just like that.

The lukewarm response by the LGUs to Guzman’s call is no longer surprising. If DENR and so-called environmentalists really want to advance their cause, they should first straighten their act.

DENR should end the flip-flopping ways and those so-called environmentalists, who are mostly outsiders, should stop insulting the intelligence of the people directly affected by the problem.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 16, 2014.


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