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Guv unfazed by lawsuit threat

| by: Xerxes Alkuino

Governor Hilario P. Davide III is unfazed by environmentalists’ lawsuit threat for supporting the sanitary cutting of century-old trees in Naga City.

“If they think they have basis to sue me and the others, let them do it, ila manang katungod (that is their right),” he told the media at the Capitol on Aug. 11.

The governor explained that he supported the cutting of trees because he was concerned with the safety of the commuters and neighboring residents.

He said he will ask Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to reconsider his order in revoking the special permit for cutting of trees nationwide including the seven trees in Naga City.

He reasoned that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 already made an assessment and found these trees decaying.

Paje’s decision was communicated to DENR 7 Director Isabelo “Boy” Montejo three days ago.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) halted the cutting of trees in Naga City amidst the protest of the environmentalists last Aug. 7.

In their meeting with the environmentalists on the following day at the Capitol, the concerned government agencies allowed the former to conduct a third party assessment on the condition of the trees.

Davide said if the third party assessment finds that the trees are needed to be cut, he will apply a special permit for the cutting of the trees with Paje.

“Katong (Those) trees that are worth saving, pwede i-save nila (they can save it). Katong trees nga di na jud mada (Those trees that can no longer be saved), which are in danger of falling, these should be cut,” he said.

The Cebu Provincial Government, Naga City, DENR, and DPWH are about to sign a memorandum of agreement for the cutting of seven trees in Naga.

The province would provide 100 seedlings to replace the each of the seven trees that are permitted to be cut by the DENR and boom truck for the cutting of trees.

However, this was overtaken by the protest of the environmentalists who include the group of the Movement for Livable Cebu, Philippine Earth Justice Center, Inc. (PEJC) and priest activist Fr. Robert Reyes.

Reyes told the media that they are planning to file a temporary environmental protection order against the DENR and DPWH. He was also quoted that they may also indict the city government of Naga and Davide for supporting the government agencies.

PEJC co-founder Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos said there was no conflict at all between the environmentalists. She said the issue is not whether the trees should be cut or not, but on the process. She stated that the public should know the real state of the trees.

“Makakita mog tree nga dying na (If you see dying tree), tell your mayor, barangay officials. Something should be done but there has to be a process,” she explained. (Xerxes Alkuino)