LEGAZPI CITY: The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is engaged in a tree-cutting rampage in Sorsogon, clearing 785 centuries-old trees that lined the Maharlika highway.
Just two months ago, the DPWH tried to cut down 650 centuries-old trees in Naga City, Camarines Sur but was met with stiff opposition by environmentalists and local officials.
Unlike the local officials of Naga, however, the mayors of the affected municipalities and barangay officials have given their nod to clear the highway of this rich source of shade and protection for the people in their areas.
Sorsogon Second District Engr. Juanito Alamar said the local officials of the town of Juban, Irosin and Bulan gave the go signal to cut the trees for the road-widening project of the DPWH that extends to idle Bulan airport.
The district engineer said the road-widening project will as soon as all the requirements are met.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it posed no objection to the tree cutting along the highway because these are in the road right of way.
The permit to cut hundreds of trees was given by Sorsogon Provincial Environment and Natural Officer Rene Camacho.
The 651 trees in Naga City were temporarily spared from the ax because the non-government organizations (NGOs) led by the Naga City Peoples Council (NCPC) and backed by local executives led by Mayor John Bongat continue their protests. These trees are standing along the Almeda highway affecting at least four barangays.
NCPC officials criticized the national government for resorting to the massive slaughter of century trees, a move which makes a mockery of its supposed national greening program where it projects to plant 1.5 billion trees from 2011 to 2016. They say the NGP is just a hype and a “piece of paper.”
The protest had demanded that the P100-million widening project be realigned instead in other locations as the subject highway is the site of early morning joggers and bikers for both young and senior citizens.
Because of the protest in Naga City, DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson ordered the DPWH regional office to realign the P100 million, according to Regional Director Danilo Dequito, who could not say where it would go.