• Albay governor forgives tree-cutting engineer

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    LEGAZPI CITY: If God forgives, why shouldn’t I?

    This was probably in the mind of Albay Governor Joey Salceda when he withdrew his complaint against a controversial district engineer who reportedly felled 29 trees to give way for a road-widening project.

    As it turns out, Albay first district engineer Teodoro Castillo claimed he only cut down a few trees.

    Salceda earlier lashed out at Castillo and accused him of cutting trees—14 in Tiwi and 15 in Malinao—without any permit whatsoever and without telling the former.

    The governor said that under Republic Act 7160, one of his duties is to protect the environment and he ordered the filing of criminal and administrative charges against Castillo whom he called a persona non grata.

    “Let this be a lesson to everyone, that as chief protector of the environment and as the executive elected by our people, I demand in no uncertain and non-negotiable terms the immediate transfer of Catillo outside Albay for acts inimical to the interests of our people and for putting at risk the future of our children,” the governor earlier said in his strongly worded statements posted in his Facebook account.

    However, when the provincial board summoned Castillo during its regular session last week, it forgave Castillo upon learning that only a few trees were cut. Thus, board member Herbert Borja said all charges against Castillo would be dropped following his explanation.

    But the story doesn’t end there. In a live interview with Wally Magdasoc of radio station D’ Wow FM here, Castillo claimed only one tree was felled, prompting listeners to ask: how many trees were actually cut?

    Because of conflicting reports, former Department of Public Works and Highways (DWSD) executive Romeo Esplana of the Citizens Crime Watch urged Salceda to push through in filing criminal and administrative charges against Castillo for lying. Incidentally, he, too, received a text message from Castillo’s office that 29 trees were cut.

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