The contractor of the road widening project in Naga City has started cutting fruit trees to hasten completion of their work.
The cutting however is without permit from the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Project engineers said the cutting “is okay as long as owners allowed them to.”
“Kanang fruit trees, although kahibaw sad mi nga gi strikto sad na sila, pero kung mag agad ta sa ilang pagpugong, kanus-a man mi mahuman sa among trabaho?,” (Although we know that they are also strict when it comes to fruit trees, if we just consider all their prohibition, when will we finish our work?),” contractor AR Adlawan project engineer Gerald Undag said.
But environment officials reiterated that no trees should be cut until given a clearance from the central office. “So far as per central office, only the National Grid Corp. was given a tree cutting permit in Cebu,” regional environment spokesperson Eddie Llamedo told Cebu Daily News.
Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), through Anastacio Cabalejo, yesterday reminded both contractor and DPWH about the “no cutting permit, no cutting” status, Llamedo added.
When CDN visited barangay Tinaan, a tamarind tree stood branchless fronting the barangay hall and a private residence.
Last month, the DENR included 155 trees in its inventory along the Naga-Carcar road which may be affected by the road widening project. Of this, 130 trees are fruit trees, while the 25 are century acacia trees which are considered as heritage trees.
Efforts are now being made to save the century trees, but the environment department said they may allow the cutting of fruit trees, only if there is a cutting permit.
A nearby homeowner said those who pruned the tree were not from Naga.
But contractor AR Adlawan admitted “kami gihapon” (it's still us) who outsourced people to prune the fruit tree.
“We asked Sammy, a barangay tanod, to help us,” Engineer Gerald Undag told CDN.
Asked why the tree was pruned, a project engineer of the contractor said they will eventually cut it down.
The pruning was done last week after consulting with DPWH 7 project engineer Marilyn Ojeda, Undag said.
Ojeda, in a text message, clarified they only cut the fruit trees after seeking the owner's approval, just like what happened to the other tamarind tree that was earlier cut.
“The sambag tree we cut was the one closest to the Apo Cemco wall. We also asked the owner’s permission because we have to give way to the grouted riprap protection works to protect the wall from toppling down,” Ojeda said referring to the fruit tree cut last month.
Other trees were “earthballed” to another location by its “owner” Apocemco, she added.
The state project engineer went on to say they will “never” cut identified heritage trees along the road widening project.
“We will never touch a single acacia tree unless there's a go signal with the recommendation from DENR except for one dead acacia tree that posed imminent danger and was cut last July 13. Other fruit trees were cut and/or transferred by owners,” Ojeda added. /Jessa J. Agua and Joy Cherry Quito, Correspondents