Quezon City. Environmentalists are up in arms over what they call 'a gruesome slaughter' of trees in Plaza Roma in front of the historic Manila Cathedral.
Members of the EcoWaste Coalition were deeply shocked to learn that many of the stunning trees that used to enhance the splendid beauty of the majestic edifice are now either maimed or completely gone.
“We mourn the gory slaughter of the Plaza Roma trees, a dastardly act ironically committed against the ill-fated trees barely a week before the Christian churches mark the Creation Month in September to celebrate the gifts of nature and our connectivity with Mother Earth,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.
Information gathered by the ecology group from the representatives of Barangay 655, Zone 69 in Manila showed that a total of 29 trees were cut in violation of the cutting and balling permit issued on August 5 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – National Capital Region (DENR-NCR) to the Intramuros Administration (IA).
Among the luckless trees that perished in the “chainsaw massacre” were healthy narra, mahogany, mango, neem, fire and Indian trees. The famed narra, our national tree, is not only known for its ecological and aesthetic values, but also for its marvelous healing properties.
Kagawad Jurry Borbon who was at Plaza Roma during the chance visit of the EcoWaste Coalition complained that no coordination was made with the office of Barangay Chairman Pedrito Yacub, Sr. when the trees were cut on August 25.
Following the inspection conducted by government personnel last August 27, the DENR-NCR through Ms. Corazon Davis, regional executive director, issued a Notice of Violation on August 28 to IA Administrator Maria Ana Harper and gave her seven days upon receipt of the notice to show cause as to why charges should not be filed against her for breaking Presidential Decree 953.
Issued by then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1976, P.D. 953 penalizes any person who cuts, destroys, damages or injures naturally growing or planted trees, flowering or ornamental plants and shrubs and other plants of scenic, aesthetic and ecological values.
The four conditions purportedly violated by the IA include the illegal cutting of trees, the non-balling of trees to be transferred, the non-posting of the permit at the Barangay Hall and the deliberate failure to inform the DENR-NCR of the actual schedule of the planned cutting and balling for supervision and monitoring purposes.
Forester Rolando Laroya led the DENR-NCR team that seized a truckload of the felled trees from Plaza Roma last August 28, which will remain in the government custody pending investigation and resolution of the case.
The EcoWaste Coalition sought a reaction from Ms. Harper who explained over the phone that what they planned for was to transfer some of the trees to pave the way for the re-landscaping of Plaza Roma. She denied giving any personal order to cut the trees, which was supposedly given by one of her staff to the private contractor. “However, I can’t say it’s not my fault due to command responsibility,” Ms. Harper said.
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