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Cabrera wants DPWH, firm to earthball remaining trees

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita March 10,2015 - 09:40 AM

Part 2

Councilor Nida Cabrera is drafting an environment code that would prevent indiscriminate cutting of trees similar to what happened at the Sergio Osmeña Road last year. (CDN PHOTO/ TONEE DESPOJO)

Councilor Nida Cabrera is drafting an environment code that would prevent indiscriminate cutting of trees similar to what happened at the Sergio Osmeña Road last year. (CDN PHOTO/ TONEE DESPOJO)

After blowing the whistle on the disappearance of trees that were uprooted  overnight a year ago along S. Osmeña road, Cebu City Councilor Nida Cabrera now wants the remaining trees to be earth-balled.

The councilor, who heads the Cebu City council’s committee on environment, will give a privilege speech on this issue in tomorrow’s regular session, nearly a year after she called for an investigation on the missing trees.

“The DENR has to agree on the previous agreement to ball out the trees. It’s better to ball them out. Kaysa mao ra man gihapon mura ra man silag gitu-ok (Because the situation right now, the trees are like being strangled),” Cabrera told Cebu Daily News in an interview.

She lamented how no action has been done on the remaining trees along the road, almost a year after the incident.

Cabrera said WT Construction Inc., the contractor for the P289.5 million road concreting project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7, should have prioritized the conditions for the lifting of the Cease and Desist Order (CDO) on the earth-balling activities.

The councilor said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 should just lift the order on the earth-balling for the sake of the trees.

“We are willing to ball out but at the expense of the contractor and the DPWH. The city, through the Park and Playgrounds Commission has the capability to do so,” she said.

Capability

During discussions prior to the issue, Cabrera said it was agreed to transfer the trees and that no one is opposed to it.

Now, she said both the DPWH and the DENR are passing the buck on who should act first to save the trees.

Last year’s incident is just one of the many problems the city is experiencing in terms of balancing development with environmental protection.

Approval

Cabrera said this dilemma should be addressed through a unified policy – a lesson learned from several other related incidents against the environment.

The councilor is currently drafting a comprehensive Environmental Code for Cebu City.

A provision of the code would ensure that existing trees in proposed development projects sites be maintained and included in the development plan and that the city government should be consulted first.

“We are currently finalizing an inventory of all the sidewalk and roadside trees within the city. It will form part of the environmental code that I’m drafting,” she said.

In her draft ordinance, project developers should first secure an approval from the city government which will review the project if there are trees that will be affected.

Balanced approach

“No cutting, destroying or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering  plants and shrubs or plants of scenic value along public roads, in plazas, parks, school premises or in any other public ground shall be permitted unless when the cutting, destroying or injuring of same is necessary for public safety, or such pruning is necessary to enhance its beauty,” read a regulatory provision in the draft “E-Code.”

A permit should be secured from the Cebu City Parks and Playgrounds Commission in coordination with the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CCENRO) before any cutting of trees is done.

In the current set-up, she said project developers only need to secure an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the DENR even without consulting with the local government unit.

“They should now consider the Cebu City government. They should consider the existing conditions of the trees on the area of development,” Cabrera said.

Violation on the provisions on the E-Code, once it is approved, ranges from a fine of P3,000 to P5,000 or imprisonment of 30 days to one year or both.

Cabrere said she hopes to submit the final draft of the E-Code to the city council by the last week of March.

“Cebu City is one of the most advanced and highly developed cities in the country wherein conditions present a challenge to provide the best and balanced approach towards economic development hand in hand with environmental protection,” the draft code reads.

 

Related Stories:

Part 1: Are remaining trees along S. Osmeña Road left for dead?

DPWH contractor resumes breaking up S. Osmeña Road to replace asphalt with concrete layer

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TAGS: Cebu City, DPWH, S. Osmeña road, traffic, trees

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