Jakosalem clan ready to sue whoever cuts down century-old trees planted by former Cebu governorBy Doris C. Bongcac
Cebu Daily News
The Jakosalem clan is ready to sue whoever cuts down remaining century-old trees that line the national highway in south Cebu where a road-widening project has started.
“That stretch of road is not even congested. Traffic congestion only happens at the center of Naga and Carcar City,” said Sylvan “Jack” Jakosalem, chairman of the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom).
The trees were planted in the 1950s by the public works office on orders of the former Cebu governor, Dionisio Jakosalem, Jack’s grandfather.
“The Jakosalem family will pursue all legal remedies to prevent the cutting of the trees. This stand includes former provincial board member Ferdinand Jakosalem. I hope the Provincial Board makes a stand on the matter,” said the former Cebu city councilor, after consulting cousins and other relatives here and in Manila.
He said he was disappointed that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is proceeding with plans to remove the giant acacia trees despite pronouncements last year that the road design would be revised to keep the trees intact as center islands with the wider lanes built around them.
Over-speeding is even a more serious concern in the area than traffic congestion, said Jakosalem.
Last Monday, Cebu Daily News photographed a tree stump and the remains of a century-old acacia found cut down and lying on top of a limestone pile in barangay Tinaan, Naga City.
Local officials said they have no idea who cut it down.
The DPWH 7 has a pending request with the DENR to cut nine “defective” century trees and to transfer 16 others by tree-balling . (See related story).
The century-old trees are among those to be affected by an ongoing P123 million road-widening project that began last April 11 and is scheduled for completion on Dec. 6. Rep. Eduardo Gullas of the 1st district sponsored the project.
Jakosalem described the canopy of trees as “one of the last remaining natural heritage that we have” and all that’s left of what his grandfather ordered planted in the south to provide shade to travelers.
“But many of the trees were already cut down by people in the area. It will be a waste to also cut the remaining trees there,” he said. Jakosalem said the family is considering to apply for a court protection order to prevent DPWH from cutting more trees.
When reports surfaced last year of DPWH plans to widen roads in the south Cebu, possibly endangering the roadside trees, Jakosalem said family members were worried.
He said their fears were eased somewhat when DPWH assured them that the trees won’t be touched.
But reading Cebu Daily News’ story and photo on on the cutting of trees in Naga City made them suspicious of DPWH’s plans.
“We were shocked by the headlines. Does this mean that we cannot trust anyone?” Jakosalem said.
Jakosalem said he discussed the situation with cousins and other family members since yesterday on what action to take.
The late governor has five children.
Some of his children and grandchildren are already in Manila and the U.S. Jakosalem said among those whom he spoke with yesterday was former provincial board Ferdinand Jakosalem.
“Those trees provide shade. They also give us good scenery. We encourage everybody to be involved in preserving these trees,” the Citom chairman said. He also said even earthballing shouldn’t be considered an option.
“The trees are there for shade so why transfer it to another place? While in discussion with family members, Jakosalem said he also consulted environment lawyer Gloria Ramos on the case.
She briefed him on environmental laws which they could use as basis should the family decide to take legal actions against the DPWH.
“If it is clear that there is violation of law then I will even be the one to sue because my lolo (former) governor Dionisio Jakosalem was the one who had those trees planted around 1915 ,” he said.
Jakosalem called Llamedo of DENR to verify reports on the cutting of trees in Naga City.
Llamedo said a site inspection was still being made. Jakosalem said he would wait for the the inspection results.