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Probe on Moldex tree cutting set May 27

BAGUIO CITY May 21 – The local legislative body decided to invite the officials of a condominium developer and representatives of concerned government agencies and offices of the local government to shed light on the alleged massive tree-cutting done in a property along in Balacbac for the put up of a multi-storey condominium structure.

Officials of Moldex, one of the controversial condominium developers in the city, representatives from the Cordillera offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR) and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR), officers of the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO), and other concerned agencies were invited to appear during the regular session of the local legislative body to explain the circumstances on the reported felling of some 49 trees within the developer's private property.

Local legislators raised an uproar on why was the company issued the tree cutting permit from the environment department that caused the eventual cutting of some 49 trees in the said property which runs counter to the efforts of the concerned government agencies and the city government to preserve and protect the remaining trees in the city to maintain the prevalence of the city's cool weather condition.

Further, some local legislators want the concerned government agencies and offices of the city government to explain whether or not Moldex was able to fully comply with the conditions contained in the issued tree cutting permit, especially the compensatory requirement on the number of trees that should have been planted by the developer to replace the felled ones, and the monitoring of the planted trees to ensure their survival.

While it is true that the agency tasked to issue tree cutting permits for live trees is the DENR, Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippine authorizes local chief executives to issue emergency tree cutting permits for identified dead trees or those trees that pose serious threat to life and limb pursuant to the recommendations of assigned experts tasked to make such suggestions and recommendations.

In the city government, all applications for issuance of emergency tree-cutting permits are subject to inspection and validation by joint personnel of the CEPMO and the City Mayor's Office where applicants are required to present proofs of ownership of the property where the trees to be cut are standing, photographs of the trees showing the danger that it poses to life and limb, certification from the punong barangay interposing no objection to the issuance of the emergency tree cutting permits, among other equally important requirements, that will justify the issuance of the same by the City Mayor who is the authorized signatory to the said permit.

In cases that the trees that will be cut are live ones, the joint inspection team will issue the necessary certification based on their findings during inspection and forward the same to the environment for appropriate action by the agency head as the power to approve or deny the same lies with the said agency.

By Dexter A. See

 
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