In this era of extreme weather aberration, when heat wave, drought, wildfire, typhoon and storm surges are becoming frequent and intense, our trees, the principal source of humans and non-human’s water, fresh air to breathe, and absorber of polluting carbon dioxide, among other services such as medicine and food, are not exempted from humanity’s rapacity and detachment.
It is sheer madness that our life-sustaining trees, including mangroves, are being mercilessly cut, destroyed and killed, even by government which is mandated to guarantee the rights of citizens to a balanced and healthful ecology under the 1987 Constitution.
And, to think that we are among the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change and must ensure resilient ecosystems and communities. Not to mention that Cebu’s water crisis still has to be addressed.
As Cebu Daily News editorial in 2012 puts it, trees are our natural heritage and irreplaceable and “To remove those leafy monuments that provide beauty, a sense of history and dignity to south Cebu, would be an act of criminal incompetence on the part government engineers , foresters, and their patrons.”
Have the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local government units, among other agencies, conducted a thorough study and assessment of the impacts of their action to the health and sustainability of this generation and thereafter?
Government agencies must put their act together and prioritize the health, safety and the natural life support systems that nurture us. We demand nothing less.
Cebu has certainly honed the skills of advocates in compelling government to do their job. The Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC) has been leading the fight in Cebu for government and other stakeholders to prioritize their mandates of environmental protection. We commend Liza Osorio and Ben Cabrido and the volunteer lawyers of PEJC for supporting the communities’ fight to stop the ecological nightmare happening in our beloved cities and province. Citizens must learn to be united and compel action from government through legal actions, massive education and mobilization.
Cebu City Mayor Labella’s move to stop the cutting of trees by DPWH and to plant 3 million trees, which we hope are endemic, and not the exotic species, such as gmilina and mahogany as earlier reported, are welcome and necessary measures to instill sanity in our environmental governance landscape.
The past days, I have indulged in a most relaxed holiday with my Sigma Delta Phi sorority 1973 batchmates in Vancouver. Being with them and in parks facing lakes and the ocean, and in forested areas, indulging in Treetops Adventure among the magnificent Douglas-fir tree “on a series of elevated suspension bridges, some reaching as high as 110 feet (33.5m) above the forest floor” are experiences of a lifetime.
I could not help but think sadly what is happening in Cebu and other parts of the country where forests, oceans and their importance to all of us and our rich biodiversity are not deeply appreciated.
Wake up, Cebu and Pilipinas!
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