Leave the uncut trees alone, groups urge | Inquirer News

Leave the uncut trees alone, groups urge

By: - Correspondent / @yzsoteloINQ
/ 03:36 AM March 05, 2014

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—Environmental and church groups have pledged to exert all efforts to save the remaining 770 trees along the Manila North Road (MacArthur Highway), most of them in Binalonan and Pozorrubio towns in Pangasinan province, including those that have been girdled or marked for cutting.

“Girdling is very malicious. It’s like injecting the first lethal injection to a convict. It is like starting the execution,” Fr. Robert Reyes, known as the “running priest,” said after he attended the provincial board’s investigation of the tree cutting on Monday.

Girdling is removing a portion of the bark around a trunk, cutting the flow of nutrients to the tree and eventually killing it.


Reyes said he would pitch a tent beside a big tree in Binalonan on March 11 and would stay there for two to three days to call attention to the need to save the trees.


Last month, Reyes and a group of environmental advocates went to Binalonan and inspected the site of the road-widening project, where trees had either been cut or girdled.

Green Convergence, one of the nongovernment organizations fighting to save the trees, has asked the government to spare the remaining trees.

“Our call is for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to leave the uncut trees alone,” the group said.

Leduina Co, provincial environment and natural resources officer, said the girdling of the trees was a violation of the special tree-cutting permit issued by the DENR to the DPWH.

“We did not expect [the girdling] to happen,” she said. However, she did not say what penalty the agency would impose on the DPWH for this violation.

Former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco said the agencies involved in the project did not violate any law when they cut trees along the national highway from Rosales to Sison.


“We went through the legal process when we applied for (a special tree-cutting) permit. We waited for three years before the permit was granted. And now that the project is here, they want us to wait again? It could be stopped again. The project could be taken to other districts or province. It would be a waste,” said Cojuangco, who used to represent the district where the project is being implemented.

Cojuangco said the project, which entailed the cutting of 1,829 trees, had been allowed before the DENR issued a permit to a shopping mall in Baguio City to cut or transfer about 200 trees in its property to make way for its expansion.

Because of the howl raised against the Baguio tree cutting, he said the release of the permit for the MacArthur Highway tree cutting was delayed.

Of the 770 remaining trees covered by the permit, the DPWH said 225 would be spared after the agency conducted another inventory. The permit expired on Feb. 4.

Most of these trees are in Binalonan (316) and Pozorrubio (231). In Sison, 143 trees remain uncut while Rosales has 68 trees and Urdaneta City, 12.

Reyes said planting 100 seedlings to replace a fallen tree was not a good equation.

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“These are decades-old, mature trees. How can 100 saplings do the job of cleaning the air as efficiently as one mature tree can? They should plant instead 1 million trees for every tree cut,” he said.

TAGS: Binalonan, DENR, Fr. Robert Reyes, Leduina Co, Lingayen, Pangasinan, Pozorrubio

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