A total of 785 old first-class species of shady and fruit-bearing trees that have been giving life to the environment will be cut down in Sorsogon.
Earlier, there was a similar plan to remove more than 650 same old trees in Naga city, and discussed also here
651 Trees on Naga city main Thoroughfare Presents Road Block to Proposed Widening which was scheduled two months ago, but the idea fizzled out due to strong opposition.
All the trees to be cut down, with permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, are those along the Maharlika Highway and are aged above 60 years old, some comprise of narra species.
Rene Camacho, Sorsogon Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office chief, said he interposes no objection to the application for permit to cut down the hundreds of old trees filed by the Department of Public Works and Highways, saying the trees involved are within the road right of way.
In Naga city, however, nongovernmental organizations led by the Naga city people’s council and backed by local executives led by Mayor John Bongat continued with their protests in blocking the DPWH project to cut down the 651 trees along the Maharlika Highway for a road-widening project, affecting at least four barangays.
NCPC officials criticized the national government in its efforts to resort to cutting down old trees, saying this might run counter to the government’s National Greening Program to plant 1.5 billion trees from 2011 to 2016.
The protesters demanded that the P100-million road widening project be realigned instead to other location because the subject highway is the site of early morning joggers and bikers for both young and senior citizens.
As a result of the mounting protests, the DPWH could not start with the Naga city highway project until Secretary Rogelio Singson reportedly gave way and ordered the DPWH regional office to realign the P100-million budget for the project, said Regional Director Danilo Dequito.
Dequito would not say where the P100-million fund would be realigned.
In the case of the Sorsogon project, the DPWH said it found no objections from the three mayors of the affected municipalities, including barangay heads, who reportedly readily gave the go-signal to clear the highway of the trees, said Sorsogon 2nd District engineer Juanito Alamar.
According to Alamar, the highways affected for widening covers the Maharlika Highway stretching through the towns of Juban, Irosin and Bulan including road sections up to the idle Bulan airport.
It was not mentioned how much the budget for the Sorsogon road widening project is, but the district engineer said the project will start soonest when all the requirements are duly complied with.(PNA report by Manilyn Ugalde)