DENR halts Laguna town tree-cutting
SAN PEDRO CITY—An online video of fallen trees has sparked outrage among environmentalists and other netizens over a road-widening project in Los Baños town, Laguna province, which proceeded despite the absence of a tree-cutting permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Isidro Mercado, head of the DENR in Laguna, said the agency was prompted to stop the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) project in Barangay Timugan after 18 “kapok” trees along the road were cut last week.
Isidro said the DPWH had requested clearance to cut the trees on Feb. 12, but that the DENR’s regional office had not yet acted on it.
The video of the fallen trees, which runs for a little over a minute, was uploaded by a resident of Los Baños on Facebook on March 31.
A message that was also posted online said the road project was meant to pave the way for a hotel owned by a top government official. This drew outrage against the official and environmental concerns for the trees. The message, however, could not be independently confirmed.
“We don’t know of any hotel. This is a DPWH project meant to create an alternate route,” said Janne Garcia, project engineer of the DPWH-Laguna second district, in a phone interview on Wednesday.
Dr. Nathanial Bantayan, director of the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems under the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, also said he was not aware of any hotel being constructed near Mt. Makiling.
Bantayan estimated the fallen kapok trees (Ceiba pentandra) to be more than 50 years old.
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