THE public works department won’t touch the trees in Naga City, delaying a scheduled “sanitation cutting” this week of seven old and decaying Acacias that may topple and harm road users.
Regional Director Ador Canlas of the Dept. of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said that that while they are willing to clear the roadside of trees that pose hazards to road users, they agency doesn’t have money to fund the planting of 100 saplings for every tree that will be taken down.
He said the tree planting requirement should first be waived for the DPWH.
The replacement of the trees is a condition in the Special Tree Cutting Permit that the regional office of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources extended for this emergency need to remove seven “defective and diseased trees” in Naga City.
Later this week, DENR has scheduled the removal of 41 weakened trees in the next town of San Fernando.
Carcar City, where a huge roadside Acacia toppled down at dawn of Saturday, smashing part of a house and repair shop across the street, is set for next week.
The DENR which made an inventory of the trees to determine their state of health is counting on the help of the local government and the DPWH, whose national South Road highway project is affected.
“This Office does not only have the funds to acquire the replacement trees, it also does not have the manpower and expertise to carry out the requirement that it maintain and protect the transplanted trees for a period of at least three years,” Canlas said in his July 25 letter to the DENR-7.
The two agencies and town officials of Naga and San Fernando are set to meet today to discuss what do with the hazards posed by old and diseased trees.
During a technical conference last week, it was agreed that the DENR-7 would provide 180 molave saplings to be planted along the roads in the southern towns.
But according to Canlas, the requirement contravenes DPWH Department Order 73-2014 which prohibits “trees, shrubs and plant boxes” to be planted within the Road Right of Way (RROW) limits of a national road.
Eddie Llamedo, DENR 7 spokesman, said it’s either the DPWH or the local government that should conduct the cutting.
“We tried to fastrack everything before the cutting like conducting the inventory, getting a clearance for the cutting of Naga trees. We have done our part. It’s not our mandate to cut trees.”
With this , DENR DENr Regional Executive Driector Isabelo Montejo wrote to Naga City Mayor Valdemar Chiong asking the ity to initiate the urgent cutting of trees “considering the extreme urgency of the situation of these trees as they pose danger to public safety… for seven century-old Acacia trees.”
He also wrote to Gov. Hilario Davide III.
Llamedo fo DENR said the agency’s position on the need to replace cut trees with 100 saplings each, stands.
He said this is part of a joint memorandum circular dated July 2014 between the DENR, the DPWH and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on tree replacement which states that each cut trees along RROW of DPWH projects shall be replaced with 100 seedlings, saplings and/or mangrove propagules.
The circular also provides that the DPWH shall transfer funds to the DENR to be used for the replacement of trees which will engage the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries or indigents in the project sites.
The scheduled cutting of the seven trees in Naga City, southern Cebu yesterday didn’t push through last Monday because of the DPWH-7’s objection to having to replace each cut tree with 100 more.
Naga City Mayor Valdemar Chiong said he was waiting for the coordination meeting today.
He too said they don’t have the budget for the cutting of the trees.
“The DPWH is supposed to have a budget for the cutting? It’s okay if we are the ones who’ll cut, but it entails financial costs. We asked DPWH, where is their budget for that?”
However, he clarified that if the DPWH-7 won’t do it, the city government will have to do it on their own with the help of the governor.
Gov.Davide earlier said the provincial government can lend its equipment like chainsaws.