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Capitol OKs cutting down Poro’s trees but…

By: By Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital Reporter | May 22,2024 - 08:07 PM

poro trees

The ‘tunnel of trees’ in Brgy. Adela, Poro town, Camotes Island. Initially reported to be affected by road widening projects, on May 22, the Capitol and assigned contractor clarified that only a few trees will be cleared, and that this iconic spot will stay as is.

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Despite calls from concerned residents and a parish church, the Cebu Provincial Government has given the go-signal to cut down trees that stood in the way for its road widening project in Poro, Camotes Island.

However, instead of the initially estimated 700 trees, the provincial government and the assigned contractor have assured the public that only a handful will be affected.

On Wednesday, May 22, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia gathered stakeholders at Poro’s town hall for a dialogue about the fate of the trees impacted by the ongoing road improvement works.

Attendees included parishioners from the Sto. Niño de Poro Parish, led by Fr. Joel Bonza, the parish priest who initiated an online petition urging the government to spare

Also present were Poro Mayor Edgar Rama, and representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as well as the contractor, Gonzalodo Enterprises.

During the hour-long meeting, the contractor pointed out that they had identified at least 724 trees affected by the project.

However, Engr. Anjo Gonzalodo clarified that not all 724 trees would be cut down. He added that these trees were marked with red numbers on their trunks to indicate that they were within the 15-meter road right of way.

“Pero di pasabot silang tanan (724) pangputlon,” Gonzalodo said.

In the meeting, parishioners also noted that they had seen two felled trees in Barangay San Jose. The contractor clarified that these incidents were unintentional.

Additionally, no trees have been cut down yet, even though the road expansion has commenced, as they have yet to apply for permits from the DENR.

Once they do, the impact will be minimal, and only those trees directly impeding motorists will be cut down.

As a result, Garcia gave the contractor the thumbs up and instructed them to acquire all necessary permits as soon as possible.

“Do not delay. Apply,” she said.


Before the meeting concluded, Garcia and the parish priests engaged in an almost-heated debate about several topics, including the environmental crisis and the separation of state and church.

At one point, the governor accused the priests of propagating lies, calling their online petition ‘erroneous’ when she learned that only a few trees might be affected.

“Namakak mo… I have studied it thoroughly, gone through the entire 13.4 kilometer stretch. Now, I can definitely say that the content of that letter, to put it kindly, erroneous,” said Garcia.

poro trees

Last April, the Sto. Niño de Poro Parish launched an online signature campaign, calling on the government to save at least 700 trees marked with red numbers on their trunks from being chopped down for road widening projects.

In their petition, they added that some of the trees were ‘centuries-old,’ which Garcia dismissed as ‘baseless.’

The road widening

In 2022, the Capitol allocated over P270 million to improve the 13.4-kilometer road that will connect the towns of Poro and Tudela on Camotes Island. The project includes expanding the road’s width from four meters to up to 10 meters and laying new concrete.

Currently, only portions of the road have been improved, with rough patches and multiple potholes.

According to Garcia, the project has incurred several delays due to the failure of previous contractors to keep within the agreed timeline and to deliver quality work.

Meanwhile, the governor assured concerned parishioners that the tree removal would not result in significant environmental damage.

“I am just as concerned as the environment because if we cannot preserve the beauty and charm of Camotes Island, then we will be robbing the citizens here of future livelihoods of a better life,” said Garcia.

“But at the same time, we balance because we cannot continue on a four-meter dilapidated road which also pose risks to the lives of those who traverse that road daily,” she added.

Sought for their comments, Bonza said they hoped the government would keep its word that the cutting down of trees would undergo the proper process.

Poro is a fourth-class municipality that forms part of Camotes Island in the northeastern part of Cebu.


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TAGS: Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, Poro

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