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Netizens outcry halts cutting of decades-old trees

An outcry from netizens and a call from Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya saved nine decades-old trees from being cut down Tuesday, April 13.

It was too late for 26 other trees.

Netizens had slammed the cutting of decades-old trees along the Bacolod South Road at Barangay Singcang-Airport to make way for a shoulder paving project, and posted photos of the devastation on social media.

“Stop now! Stop these abuses and indifference,” Rhoderick Samonte wrote on his Facebook wall in a “rage against the destroyers.”

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are mandated to protect our environment, we are in the midst of a climate crisis and one of the right ways to deal with this is to plant more trees, Samonte wrote.

April is international Earth Month which calls on us all to “Restore our Earth!”, but look, this is all destroy, destroy, destroy, he added.

Another netizen wrote “My God, the world is so hot, the sidewalk could have been beautified with all those beautiful decades old Narra trees.”

One netizen said they destroyed decades-old trees to replace them with cheap tiles.

The DPWH had obtained a permit from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Bago City to cut the 35 trees to make way for a shoulder paving project.

The DPWH was authorized to cut 15 Molave trees, 12 Narra trees, seven Mohogany trees and one Eycalyptus tree, CENRO Bago chief Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya said.

Gerangaya said he issued the tree cutting permit on March 19 because the DPWH had complied with all the requirements needed.

It had obtained a Certification of Non Coverage from the DENR regional office, barangay approval and a Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod resolution interposing no objection on motion of Councilor Carl Lopez.

Lopez said the SP’s job is simply ministerial , it sees to it if all requirements and documentations under the law are complete, and ensures if there is a hazard to public safety.

They also require that for every tree cut, 100 trees should be planted, he said.

Lopez also said since there was a mandate from President Rodrigo Duterte to clear all road rights of way, “this was part of the project to ensure that roads and projects of the national government are not impeded, failure of which can sanction public servants.”

DPWH District Engineer Jaime Javellana said Gasataya on Tuesday called him to halt the cutting of the trees.

Gasataya, in a letter to Javellana, said “there should be exertions to ensure that infrastructure projects are sustainable and maintain balance between development an preservation of nature.”

Gasataya asked for an explanation on why the trees were cut and to spare the remaining trees.

He also urged the DPWH to conduct proper consultations.

Javellana said the sidewalk improvement project was geared towards the improvement of the passageway of pedestrians and to remove obstructions.

The branches of the trees have a tendency of falling on vehicles and pedestrians, he said.

However, Javellana assured that the nine remaining large Molave and Narra trees south of the old Bacolod Airport will no longer be cut following the request of Gasataya.*

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