Opposition to tree cutting now in cyberspace | Inquirer News

Opposition to tree cutting now in cyberspace

/ 04:14 AM February 17, 2014

RUNNING priest Fr. Robert Reyes ties a white ribbon around a tree that had been girdled or marked for cutting along the MacArthur Highway in Binalonan town. WILLIE LOMIBAO/Contributor

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines— Netizens, most of them Pangasinan residents and those who trace their roots to the province, on Friday signed a petition circulating in the Internet to stop the cutting of the remaining trees along the national highway in eastern Pangasinan towns.

“My province mates, I know that a tree on MacArthur Highway matters as much as a tree in any part of Pangasinan. We need your signatures in this petition to save the remaining trees that have been marked for cutting,” said Virginia Pasalo, commissioner of Pangasinan Historical and Cultural Commission.

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The petition, which was addressed to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, was uploaded on www.change.org on Friday. It has so far gathered close to 100 signatures and has been posted on different Facebook accounts.

The tree cutting stopped after the contractors’ 90-day permit expired on Feb. 4.

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Fernando Estrada, community environment and natural resources officer, said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has applied for an extension of the permit to finish cutting the other trees already marked for cutting.

Based on the permit the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued to the DPWH in November, 1,829 trees would be cut and 107 saplings were for earth balling.

The trees lined the side of MacArthur Highway in the towns of Rosales, Villasis, Binalonan, Pozorrubio and Sison and Urdaneta City.

Estrada said about 70 percent, or 1,280 trees have been felled, leaving a little more than 500 trees standing.

“One tree killed is one too many,” said Danny Dingle, a Pangasinan resident based in Sydney, Australia. “Pangasinan is our paradise, and these are our trees of life we are talking about,” he said.

Former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco, who claimed responsibility for the tree cutting, said the trees were in the wrong place because they posed a hazard to motorists.

“The old trees lining the MacArthur Highway were cut without consultation,” Pasalo said.

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“We are not asking Congressman Cojuangco not to widen the road, just to provide a mechanism to save the remaining trees, or stop cutting until a system to save the trees is agreed upon by interest groups and communities,” she said.

The tree cutting had drawn the attention of environmentalists and activists who saw the project site while they were on their way to Baguio City last December.

On Thursday, Fr. Robert Reyes, known as the “running priest,” ran through the national highway in Binalonan town to dramatize his call for the government “to show love for the environment by saving the trees which give clean air, healthy soil and adequate water supply.”—Gabriel Cardinoza,

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TAGS: netizens, opposition, tree cutting
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