Angeles maintains stand on tree-cutting

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

ANGELES CITY – "The current city administration under the leadership of Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan has always been steadfast in its stand against the cutting of decades-old trees affected by the ongoing road widening and rehabilitation projects."

Thus, said City Environment and Natural Resources Officer (Cenro) Francis Pangilinan, in response to a press statement issued by Councilor Carmelo "Pogi" Lazatin Jr. criticizing Pamintuan's apparently "inconsistent" stand concerning the tree-cutting currently being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in this city.

"The Manila North Road (MNR) commonly known as Mac Arthur Highway and other road expansion projects in this city are all national government infrastructure undertaking and Mayor Pamintuan has nothing to do with the decision to cut affected trees in this city. The request came from the DPWH and was approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with the imprimatur of environmentalist group," Pangilinan clarified.


In fact, he said, the mayor has even supported and joined the Save the Trees Coalition (STC) headed by environmentalist Cecil Yumul in securing a Temporary Protection Order (Tempo) from the Angeles City Regional Trial Court, which prevented the DPWH and DENR from cutting affected trees.

STC stands that the earth-balling option can be resorted only if there is consultation among the affected communities and where the design of the proposed construction is fully presented and explained.

However, the RTC has lifted the Tempo last month allowing DPWH and DENR to resume tree cutting and earth-balling operations in four areas in the city, which includes the West Circumferential Road (the stretch of Friendship Highway going to Telabastagan in the City of San Fernando), Balibago MacArthur Highway, Mon Tang Avenue, Angeles-Magalang Road for the road widening along MacArthur Highway.

In an interview over a local radio station here, Yumul explained that STC is closely monitoring the selective earth-balling operations of the DPWH to ensure compliance of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) forged between her group and the concerned government agencies.

"We suggest Councilor Lazatin leave the issue on environment to genuine environmentalists and instead focus his initiatives on issues he knows best," Yumul said.

Pangilinan justified the use of city government’s resources and personnel as an LGU support and initiative to ensure safety and traffic orderliness in areas where on-going trimming and earth-balling of trees are taking place.

The City Government has received numerous complaints from residents and motorists on the slow pace of the DPWH tourism related infrastructure projects.

"The mayor has repeatedly appealed to the DPWH to hasten the completion of the road widening projects and has offered to provide assistance during infrastructure works to ensure public safety and ease heavy traffic congestion in areas affected," Pangilinan said.

He added that several private entities and contractors assisted in the earth-balling operations for free after the DPWH and DENR sought the assistance of the city government.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on May 30, 2014.

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