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Pangasinan provincial board stands firm: No tree cutting

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan, Aug. 18 — The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) particularly its Committee on Environment reiterated its resolution strongly opposing the cutting of trees along the national and local roads in the province.

"The Committee hereby reiterates Provincial Resolution No. 269-2014 entitled expressing the sense of the SP opposing the cutting of trees along the national roads within the province, with intent to preserve as many trees as possible with stern warning to the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) Third Pangasinan Engineering District not cut any of the standing big trees, more or less 700…" said Sixth District Board Member Alfonso Bince Jr.

Bince reiterated the resolution during the SP regular session on August 18, 2014, after receiving a copy of a letter of DPWH district engineer Emmanuel Diaz addressed to to Gov. Amado Espino Jr.

Bince added that the DPWH will be answerable to the SP with the "severest sanction possible" particularly a resolution seeking for the transfer of the district engineer, if the agency continues to cut the remaining big trees along the MNR road."

The letter of Diaz dated July 16, 2014 requested the Governor's intercession for the DPWH to be able to remove the dead trees along the Manila North Road (MNR) Urdaneta City-Binalonan-Pozzorubio section that pose danger to the general public.

Diaz noted, "The DPWH is mandated to remove these hazards but our abidance with the Pangasinan Provincial Resolution prohibiting the cutting of trees along roads in Pangasinan is barring us to pursue this mandate."

Provincial Resolution No. 269-2014 was passed in June this year primarily to save the 770 remaining trees out of the 1,829 affected by the road-widening of the MNR in eastern Pangasinan towns of Rosales, Villasis, Binalonan, Pozorrubio, Sison, and Urdaneta City.

In an interview, Bince said that the SP, however, allows the cutting of the 14 assorted trees that were already found dead but are still standing by the road shoulder.

Meanwhile, a report of Col. Fernando De Guzman, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council, following an ocular inspection along the said MNR stretch, stated that "almost all of the big trees (more or less 700) planted/standing within the shoulder of the MNR were girdled or having an initial cut at the lower portion of the said trees."

The SP also asked the DPWH to explain who did the girdling and initial cut of the lower portion of these trees.

Previous to this, provincial administrator Rafael Howard Baraan said that the tree-cutting resolution should be "non-negotiable."

"The reason why there is TPLEx (Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway) project is in order to provide faster flow of vehicles from north to south. In the case of MNR, it is a historical, scenic, cultural kind of highway," he said.

He said that there is no need to expand the road as TPLEX is already undergoing construction.

He added, "If you are going to Pangasinan and you just want to relax and appreciate the nature, the culture, and absorb whatever kind of historic importance Pangasinan has, that's the route." (PNA)


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