LINGAYEN, Pangasinan, Sept. 28 — The provincial board will strengthen its opposition to the further cutting down of trees on both sides of the Manila North Road (MNR) from Urdaneta City to Pozorrubio town despite the admission from an official of the Department of Public Highways (DPWH) that the 589 trees that were left in that stretch are really bound to be felled.
This was disclosed by Sixth District Board Member Alfonso Bince Jr. after hearing from both officials of the DPWH and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) today (September 28) that a new permit is being sought to cover the cutting of the remaining standing trees.
"We in the provincial government will adopt an official stand by way of a resolution opposing the further cutting down of trees to be sent immediately to Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje and Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson," said Bince, noting that DPHW is really bent on cutting down all those trees.
Corollary to this, Fr. Robert Reyes, the running priest and head of the National Coalition to Save the Trees, returned to Pozorrubio last Sunday to strengthen their fight so that the remaining 589 trees will not be touched.
Fr. Reyes and company again put ribbons around the trees, an initiative he started two weeks ago, as a sign of protest on what he called the systematic massacre of trees along the MNR.
DPWH Third Engineering District chief Emmanuel Diaz admitted they requested for the permit to cut trees to really make the MNR really safe to all road users.
He said there were 1,900 trees along the MNR from Carmen, Rosales to Sison town covered by the first tree cutting permit issued by DENR and only some 700 remained when the tree cutting permit issued to the contractor expired in February this year.
Of the more than 700 that remained, at least 181 dead and dying trees were covered by the new permit issued to the contractor RA Pahati Construction and Supply Inc.
DENR Assistant Regional Director Gwendolin Bambalan said these 181 dead and dying trees were already removed as per their monitoring and there should be no further cutting of trees unless a new tree cutting permit is issued once a clearance is issued by DENR central office.
Asked if there were violations committed when the contractor implemented the second permit issued by DENR, Bambalan said that based on their monitoring and assessment, only dead and dying trees were cut down and the living trees were left out.
But then with the admission of Diaz that all the still standing trees were really intended to be cut down to effect the widening of the MNR, the provincial board must toughen its opposition to the further cutting of trees, said Bince.
He noted that all the standing trees were already girdled around their trunks which means the DPWH was really bound to cut them down to effect the highway widening.
Diaz admitted that girdling was done by the contractor preparatory to the actual cutting of trees, however it was not done when its first tree cutting permit expired early this year.
Many of those girdled trees died while some managed to survive.
Bince said DENR apologized for not consulting the provincial board when they cut down trees from Carmen, Rosales to Urdaneta City but not when they cut down what they called dead and dying trees from Urdaneta to Pozorrubio. (PNA)