City not issuing tree-cutting permits indiscriminately – mayor

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan on Wednesday said the city government exercises prudence and circumspection in the issuance of emergency tree-cutting permits dispelling misconceptions that he had been wantonly approving such permits.

"It is not true that we are issuing these permits indiscriminately. There are steps and requirements to be followed and I never sign permits if these requirements are not satisfied these requirements," the mayor said.

The mayor was reacting to the negative comments drawn by a viral video posted at the social media site on the cutting of trees in a private lot along Legarda Road over the weekend.

The mayor said that perceptions that the permit was irregularly and indiscriminately issued were not true as the permit was signed only after the applicant owner of the lot completed all the requirements which included a clearance from the barangay and investigation report from the joint inspection committee certifying that the trees pose imminent danger to life and limb.

"We believe that the issuance of the emergency tree cutting permit passed through the tedious process and it was issued in good faith. In fact, the emergency tree cutting permit was supported by a certification from the punong barangay of Burnham-Legarda interposing no objection to the cutting of the trees wherein some of them were dead, some of them were infected posing a serious threat to the live trees as well as the safety of life and limb in the private property of the owner," the mayor said.

He also dismissed claims that the cutting was not coordinated with the Dept. of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) saying that Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) personnel were present at the site to inspect the trees before the cutting as attested by the engineer working for the owner of the property.

"For the information of the public, technical personnel of the CENRO even conducted an inspection on the trees that will be cut aside from the fact that they were present in the area when the trees were about to be cut wherein they did not object to the same," he said.

"Since 2012, we had been involving CENRO personnel in the conduct of the joint inspection of the trees being applied for emergency tree cutting permit apart from the fact that copies of the signed tree cutting permits are furnished the CENRO for their information and appropriate action, thus, there is no truth to the allegation that the tree cutting was not coordinated with the environment department," he added.

City Environment and Parks Management Officer-in-Charge Ruben Cervantes attested that the trees subject of the permit were either dead, leaning or afflicted with a disease.

Cervantes also confirmed that CENRO personnel were present at the site before the cutting of the trees as reported to him by his personnel who joined the inspection.

Under existing laws, rules and regulations, the local chief executive is only authorized to issue emergency tree cutting permits for dead trees and trees that pose a serious threat to life and limb.

All applicants of emergency tree cuing permits have to apply for the same with the city Mayor's Office, after which, the application will be endorsed for investigation and inspection by members of a joint inspection committee composed of foresters from the CEPMO, CENRO and a representative from the City Mayor's Office. The joint inspection committee shall in turn submit its findings and recommendations on the approval or denial of the application for issuance of tree cutting permit which will be the one that will be signed by the City Mayor. – Aileen P. Refuerzo

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