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DENR okays cutting of trees for DPWH's Legazpi road-widening project

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 15 — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) over the weekend gave the green light to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to cut at least 51 agoho trees along the Maharlika Highway in Barangay (village) Rawis in this city, a DENR spokesperson said Monday.

Henry Hernandez, an information officer of the DENR Regional Public Information Office (RPIO), said the DPWH engineering team has started to cut 51 agoho trees along the highway here after their agency's central office issued on Feb. 10 a certification permitting the cutting of several trees along the stretch of Maharlika Highway in Barangay Rawis, three kilometers from the city's business district.

Hernandez said the DENR central office took almost a year to process and approve the request of the DPWH for the cutting of trees under the nationwide road-widening project, including a certification from the Legazpi City government on the issuance of a Certificate of No Objection for the cutting of trees in the city's major road networks.

In a phone interview on Monday, he said that under the agreement with the DPWH, all the trees that would be cut will be turned over to the DENR-PENRO office for processing and disposition.

The DENR regional spokesperson said that so far, 236 trees have been cut along national highway in Albay since last year.

The cutting of trees under the DPWH road-widening project has met stiff opposition from various local environmentalist groups here which have launched protest actions against the road project, including a signature campaign to save the trees.

DPWH financial data showed that the agency last year receive a Php140-million budget to finance road and bridge-widening projects in Bicol aimed to ease the flow of traffic in major road networks in the region.

This year, DPWH has earmarked some Php19.65 billion for the nationwide road and bridge-widening projects.

Bicol will receive Php1.9 billion for road widening and concreting and another Php1.3 billion to widen 33 bridges from two-lane to four-lane structures. (PNA)

LAP/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS

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