TACLOBAN CITY—Malacañang has given the go-signal to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to uproot some 3,000 trees to clear the way for a multimillion-dollar program to build “world-class” roads on Samar Island.
The $214.44-million Samar National Road Development Project will cover 220 kilometers of road, mostly in Eastern Samar province. It is funded by a grant to the Philippines by Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), a special agency created by the US Congress to provide funding assistance to countries committed to good governance, economic freedom and investments in their citizens.
“We will make sure that only 3,000 trees would be cut. In excess of that number, the (contractor) will be held answerable,” said Maciano Talavera, regional technical director for forest management service of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Under an agreement signed by the DENR and the DPWH, the public works agency, through the winning bidder, must plant 100 seedlings for every tree cut, Talavera said. This would ensure that the ecosystem in the area will not be affected, he added.
The road project has four components. Compact Package 1 will cost P802 million and cover 16.3 km of road in Barangays Bray and Tenani in Paranasa town, Samar. A total of 236 trees will be cut. The contractors are DMCI and Pancho Construction.
Compact Package 3 will cost P2.4 billion and involve the construction of 64.6 km of road in the towns of San Julian, Sulat, Borongan City, Maydolong and Balangkayan in Eastern Samar and the cutting of 2,029 trees. It will be implemented by MacBuilders and Qingjan.
The two packages were started last month and expected to be completed by next year.
Compact packages 2 and 4 will cover 63.8 km and 79.5 km, respectively, have yet to start.
About P6 million has been set aside for the procurement of seedlings to be used for the replanting, according to Talavera.
The cut trees belonging to different species would be turned over to the DENR and given to the Technical and Skills Development Authority through the Department of Education. Joey Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas