Cabrera: Don’t let remaining trees die, plant more

By Jose Santino S. Bunachita |March 12,2015 - 12:20 AM

REPLACE the missing trees on S. Osmeña Road, and transfer the remaining ones, said the Cebu City Council yesterday.

The request was  addressed to  the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7, its contractor WT Construction Inc. and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7.

In a privilege speech, Councilor Nida Cabrera  appealed to save the remaining trees in the center of the road which may soon die if left unattended.

She said she was disappointed about the “unresolved issue” of the disappearance of 79 fire trees which were uprooted over night in April last year, with no one  owning up to the deed.

She  deplored the neglected state of remaining trees in the middle of the highway  “which a major newspaper reported last Monday as apparently being left for dead.”

Cabrera said she had pointed out the problem before of roadside trees being choked by cement around it, preventing water from reaching its roots.   They  will “surely perish” if left like this, she said.

At least 20 trees, mostly fire trees, remain in the  center island of S. Osmeña Road, where major road concreting work is ongoing.

“It is bad enough that the criminal case filed by the DENR Regional Office against the contractor accused of uprooting the trees was dismissed by the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office because even with the presence of advance technology, such as the CCTV installed along the S. Osmena Road, no CCTV footage showed with clear certainty that it was the personnel of the respondents who uprooted the trees.  Indeed, the height of irony for that type of incident to happen in a highly urbanized city, yet we could not pinpoint culpability,” Cabrera said in her speech.

Despite the dismissal of the case, the DPWH or its contractor still cannot touch the trees since the cease and desist order (CDO) issued by the DENR last year is still in effect.

During previous meetings last  year, the DPWH agreed to replace the 79 missing trees with 7,900 mangrove seedlings to be planted at the Balili Property in Naga City. The seedlings would be  supplied by the Capitol.

To date, neither the DPWH nor the contractor has replanted new trees.

DENR 7 spokesman  Eddie Llamedo said they  cannot lift the CDO unless the trees are replaced.

Cabrera appealed to the “sense of social responsibility” of WT Construction Inc. and DPWH to meet this requirement of replanting.

She asked  DENR 7 to start the “urgent process” of earthballing the remaining trees and to lift the stop order.

She requested  the  Cebu City Parks and Playgrounds Commission   “take care” of the trees and water them  in the meantime.

“A  philosopher once said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, the second time as farce. There could be nothing  more tragic than the disappearance of those trees, which are part of our ecosystem, declared by the City of Cebu as one of its sources of life. However, there is absolutely no excuse to continue neglecting the remaining trees and allow them to perish as well,” Cabrera said.

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