DENR suspends tree cutting along La Union highway after online backlash | Inquirer News
26 ACACIA SPARED

DENR suspends tree cutting along La Union highway after online backlash

By: - Correspondent / @yzsoteloINQ
/ 04:05 AM September 20, 2019
DENR suspends tree cutting along La Union highway after online backlash

FACING THE AX Several trees along the national highway in Agoo town in La Union province have been marked for cutting as these pose danger to motorists. —WILLIE LOMIBAO

AGOO, LA UNION—A decades-old acacia tree in front of the plaza here had been cut while 26 others had been marked for cutting as the national government started clearing the national road in this La Union town of obstructions, local environment officials said.

Maximo Soriano, provincial environment and natural resources officer, said his office obtained on March 26 a permit from the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cut the trees.

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An inspection by pathologists from the University of the Philippines and the DENR’s Ecosystem Research and Development Bureau showed that the felled acacia tree was already decaying.

Soriano said the acacia was infected with heart rot, a fungal disease affecting mature trees, and was cut on Sept. 4.

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Citing the pathologists’ report, Soriano said the bottom portion of the trunk was already hollow and the rotting tree posed risk to residents and motorists.

Complaint

The tree cutting, however, had angered residents, who took to social media to call on Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to intervene.

Cimatu ordered local environment officials to investigate the residents’ complaint, prompting Soriano to suspend the tree cutting.

Soriano said the DENR would review President Duterte’s directive to clear roads of all illegal structures and constructions within 60 days before proceeding with the tree cutting.

More to fall
Agoo Mayor Stefanie Ann Eriguel assured the public that only 26 trees, which were covered by the March 26 permit, would be cut down to ensure the safety of motorists using the road.

But more than 600 trees along the Manila North Road (formerly MacArthur Highway) in the province had been marked by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), reportedly as part of its inventory, the DENR records showed.

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In a Sept. 5 meeting with local officials, the DPWH representatives insisted on removing obstructions along the national highway in the towns of Rosario, Sto. Tomas, Aringay and Bauang.

Soriano said his office had also received requests from the DPWH to cut trees along roads in the towns of Aringay and Caba, and along the road stretches connecting Agoo and Baguio City and Rosario and Pugo.

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TAGS: acacia, Agoo, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, La Union highway, tree cutting
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