Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia issued an executive order Wednesday, April 14, ordering the creation of a committee to investigate the cutting of decades-old trees at the Bacolod South Road at Barangay Singcang-Airport.
“We assure the public that we will get into the bottom of this. I have issued an executive order creating a joint committee to investigate this incident and to find out what exactly happened. And what is most important now is we must make sure a similar incident does not happen again,” he said.
The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Bago City had granted the Department of Public Works and Highways a permit to cut 35 trees to make way for a shoulder paving project.
However, the DPWH stopped the cutting of the trees following an outcry from netizens and a call from Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya, DPWH District Engineer Jaime Javellana said Tuesday.
Nine trees were spared from cutting but it was too late for the 26 others.
CENRO Bago chief Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya said he granted the tree cutting permit after the DPWH submitted a Certification of Non Coverage from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources regional office, and resolutions from the Barangay Singcang-Airport council endorsing the project and Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod interposing no objection.
The DPWH was authorized to cut 15 Molave trees, 12 Narra trees, seven Mohogany trees and one Eycalyptus tree, Gerangaya said.
Leonardia in Executive Order No. 19, Series of 2021 issued Wednesday, ordered the creation of an investigating committee led by City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan to look into the tree cutting issue.
He also directed the committee to ascertain if there are similar pending issued or requests for cutting of trees.
Trees were also cut in Barangay Granada, Bacolod City, where sidewalk improvement is underway.
The mayor instructed the committee to submit recommendations to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.
“It was a shocking surprise. I could not believe it the first time it was reported to me,” he said, that is why he ordered the Bacolod police director, Col. Manuel Placido, to stop it instantly,” he said in a statement Wednesday
“The trees were some of the treasures of Bacolod that people marveled at, and we considered those trees as part and parcel of the city,” he said.*