651 trees on Naga City main thoroughfare presents road block to proposed widening
The Department of Public Works and Highways in Bicol has lined up a road widening project which will pass by the city of Naga encompassing the national road that traverses the barangays of Concepcion Pequeña, Concepcion Grande, Del Rosario and Mabulo, which streets hosts 651 old and big trees now considered the road block to the widening project.
The DPWH-V under Director Danilo Dequito has made it clear the need to turn identified road sections into four lanes, citing the volume of vehicles passing the area daily. To pursue the project, DPWH will have to cut down the trees.
Would it make sense cutting off some 651 giant trees, aged between 40 to 60 years already, in the pretense of development? This is the burning question some government agencies, organizations and residents of Naga city face to ultimately decide soon and very soon.
(Earlier, in March we posted here: CamSur Road Widening Will Impact Naga City and Pili)
The trees hindering the road widening include all shady and leafy narra, mango, acacia, mahogany and talisay varieties. An inventory verified the total to 651 trees in all.
An easy twist to the predicament came during the consultation meeting held at the city development office attended by the DPWH, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and local officials, including civil organizations. Majority of the attendees were anti-conservation and favored the cutting of the hundreds of trees in exchange for the proposed widening.
City mayor John Bongat suggested that considering the present width of the road affected by the widening, there is already enough space for a four-lane structure. He wanted the preservation of the trees instead the space they occupy designated as lanes on both sides of the road for bicycles and joggers.
The group of the Naga City People’s Council is more inclined to the advocacy of preserving the trees. In a statement, it emphasized that “.. what the government is doing is the opposite of its much-vaunted National Greening Program, in which the DENR has boasted to have planted at least 1.5 billion trees, starting in 2011 and to end in 2016.”
NCPC chair Ramiro Samar said it is very disgusting and frustrating that after planting and attending to the growth of the hundreds of trees lined up along the national road, all of a sudden it comes easy for the government to condemn them to give way to another project in the guise of development.
Samar said the NCPC will oppose the planned cutting of the 651 trees, adding that the NCPC will call for another consultation meeting with agencies involved to get the right solution involving the trees.
One of the staunch proponent, Arnel Rodriguez, Camarines Sur Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office chief, said his office will issue the corresponding permit to cut, adding he sees nothing wrong with the condemnation of the trees to give way to the widening project. (From PNA reports)