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Gwen: We’re willing to meet Poro parishioners over trees

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital Multimedia Reporter | May 20,2024 - 02:13 PM

Gwen: We’re willing to meet Poro parishioners over trees

Parishioners of the Sto. Niño de Poro Parish Church in Poro, Camotes, together with concerned citizens and residents in the town, placed banners around trees in an attempt to save them from being chopped down. The Sto. Niño de Poro Parish launched an online petition to convince the government to reconsider its decision to cut down over 500 trees for road widening efforts. | Photo courtesy of Fr. Joel Bonza

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia is open to have a dialogue with parishioners and concerned citizens of Poro town in Camotes Island, northern Cebu over the fate of the trees affected by upcoming road widening projects there.

Garcia, in a recent briefer, said she is willing to listen to Porohanons who initiated an online petition, urging the government to spare over 700 trees from being chopped down.

“I am willing to call them, and we will listen to them,” the governor told reporters.

READ: Poro parish church urges gov’t: Don’t chop down our trees

She also considered gathering all stakeholders, including the mayors and national government agencies concerned, to further shed light on the matter.

“We will call everyone including the mayors concerned. We will call all of them to a meeting. I will listen to all sides and look for a possible middle ground,” Garcia said.

READ: No one to hug on Valentine’s Day? Try hugging trees!

“Then let us also take into consideration the proper government agency that is tasked really to preserve the environment including the decision, deciding on how to balance progress with the environment and that is DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources),” she added.

Online petition

Last January, the Sto. Niño de Poro Parish kickstarted an online petition calling the government to reconsider issuing permits that will allow the chopping down of at least 700 trees along a 14-kilometer road in their municipality.

READ: LIST: Tree cover loss in Cebu per area

The project is funded by the Cebu Provincial Government.

The road, a major thoroughfare in Poro town, covers at least five barangays – Mercedes, Esperanza, Adela, San Jose, and Daan Paz.

The parishioners’ initial goal was to collect 1,500 signatures but in May, they decided to increase the campaign’s quota by up to 2,500 signatures.

Road widening project

In an earlier press conference, Fr. Joel Bonza, the parish priest at the Sto. Niño de Poro church who launched the petition, said that while they welcomed the initiative to improve infrastructure in their locality, this should not come at the costs of the environment.

Parishioners and concerned residents in Poro learned last January that dozens of trees had been marked to be chopped down to pave way for road widening.

This prompted them to do a signature campaign and a prayer rally in hopes of sparing the trees. They also placed banners and posters, with words such as “Save Mother Earth” and “These trees were older than you” on the trees affected.

Poro is a fourth-class municipality that formed part of the Camotes group of islands, located approximately 200 kilometers northeast of Cebu City.

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