Wanted: More green spaces

By Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos |April 11,2019 - 06:54 AM

A wonderful news to greet the day, Mexico time, that is, came with the announcement from our Supreme Court that it has made permanent the ban on tree-cutting and earth-balling for SM in Luneta Hill in Baguio City for its expansion.

There is a clause however in the ruling that it “is without prejudice to the filing of another application for an environmental compliance certificate in accordance with existing laws and regulations.”

In 2011, residents of Baguio City were appalled to know of the cutting permit issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The Cordillera Global Network and several residents filed two cases to stop it, but, 60 trees out of 182 pine and alnus trees applied for were eventually cut after the Regional Trial Court lifted the Temporary Environmental Protection Order it previously issued and dismissed their petitions and the Court of Appeals did the same. Thus, petitioners went to the Supreme Court which stopped the cutting and balling of trees in 2015.

The Supreme Court ruling is hailed by many, but for some petitioners, it was considered “bittersweet” as trees had been cut.

Was it in 2015 that we had a harrowing experience in the city when around 70 trees were cut, without anyone seemingly knowing who did it, in a road construction program?

Trees sustain life, that we know, for both humans and non-humans. But, how many appreciate the tremendous services that they provide to us – for free?

They provide food, medicine, shelter for our birds and insects, moderate the effects of sun, rain and wind, provides oxygen and absorb the polluting and climate change-causing carbon dioxide, apart from the sense of tranquility and spirituality that we are showered with just by appreciating majestic green spaces.

A newly study also confirms that “growing up near green space can reduce one’s risk of mental illness by up to 55 percent.”

Do we even know that each citizen over 12 years of age has a duty to plant a tree every year of her/his life (section 8, RA 10176)?

The Arbor Day Act of 2012, RA 10176, signed by President Benigno Aquino III on September 12, 2012, is another environmental law that is “languishing in the sickbed of non-compliance,” as Tony Oposa aptly puts it.

Which of our country’s provinces, cities and municipalities with their component barangays have revived “by appropriate proclamation of their respective local chief executives, an Arbor Day at an appropriate fixed date every calendar year as shall be deemed suitable according to the proper time and season for planting trees in the respective provinces and their respective component municipalities or cities concerned?”(Section 2, RA 10176).

If government does not move, it is not an excuse for us, Earthlings, not to do our responsibility, as stewards of Life’s sources, to do what is necessary to ensure that our rights to life, health and a healthful and balanced ecology is protected.

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