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DPWH suspends cutting of 259 trees in Angeles City

/ 05:04 AM January 11, 2020

ROAD-WIDENING CASUALTY This tree in Angeles City is among those that had already been cut as part of the government’s infrastructure project to ease traffic at Clark Freeport. —DINA ZULUETA/CONTRIBUTOR

ANGELES CITY—Heeding the appeal of protesters, Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr. asked the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to stop the cutting of 259 trees along a road being widened to ease traffic at Clark Freeport. Roseller Tolentino, DPWH director in Central Luzon, said Lazatin’s request to the agency’s Pampanga third engineering district cited the “vehement opposition” of Save the Trees Coalition (STC). The Inquirer learned that around 50 trees had already been cut.

Lazatin asked for time to “look into possible alternatives that would satisfy the need to clear the area for road widening without killing these trees.”

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“We will need to discuss this matter further,” Tolentino told the Inquirer by telephone.

But for the meantime, he said the DPWH had suspended the tree cutting.

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Laudemir Salac, officer in charge of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Pampanga, confirmed the suspension.

Online petition

The STC started an online petition asking the Angeles City government to intervene by earthballing the trees. More than 4,000 people had signed the petition as of 11 p.m. on Friday. Lazatin said he was duty-bound to listen to protesters.

STC did not call off the protest-vigil on Thursday night. It planned to ask the court to issue a temporary environment protection order (Tepo) against the tree cutting.

2,000 trees saved

In 2012, the group got a Tepo to save 2,000 trees from being cut. These trees involved those lining the road from Chevalier School in Angeles City to Mabiga in Mabalacat City.

The DPWH’s network development program on Friendship Circumferential Road had obtained two tree-cutting permits from Salac. The road used to host hobby stores catering to American servicemen. A stretch of this road is now called Korean Town.

Salac said the DPWH had complied with the requirements of a memorandum issued by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to guide the processing and issuance of permits on the removal and relocation of trees on roads, bridges, flood-control works and other infrastructure projects.

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The DPWH cited the need to widen the road to Clark Freeport to ease heavy traffic to and from Clark International Airport inside the free port.

Salac said he required the DPWH to replace every felled tree with 100 seedlings.—TONETTE OREJAS

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TAGS: Angeles, cutting of trees, Department of Public Works and Highways, Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr.
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