December 2, 2022

The Department of Public Works and Highways-Baguio City District Engineering Office will cut 31 trees to give way to various projects in the city.
The cutting of trees, which was made public through a post on social media, has angered netizens who criticized the DPWH and Mayor Benjamin Magalong for “sacrificing the trees in the name of development.” They added Magalong’s silence on the issue contravenes his campaign for a tree cutting moratorium.
The DPWH said these trees are within rights of way, as it also clarified the 31 trees it will cut are in various areas in Baguio, not located at a single area as widely circulating on social media.
These trees are 15 Benguet pine, one avocado, two pink shower, nine agoho, two bottle brush, and two eucalyptus.
Eight have been cut for the road widening at Gov. Pack Road near Mt. Peace Retreat House and Home Sweet Home.
The eight trees have been issued a tree cutting permit by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office on Dec. 11, 2020. These trees are four Benguet pine, three agoho, and one avocado.
DPWH-BCDEO Engr. III and head of procurement Tedler Depaynos Jr. told the Courier that the agency has complied with all government regulations prior to Cenro’s issuance of a tree cutting permit.
Among the prerequisites are concurrence of the barangay where the project is located and clearance of the city government.
Barangay Military Cut-Off has issued a certificate of non-objection on Nov. 5, 2020. On Nov. 10, 2020, Magalong issued a clearance for the cutting of 31 trees.
Other areas where trees will be cut are at Marcos Highway – 15 trees; Camp 7, Kennon Road – four; Fr. Carlu loop – three; and Upper Bonifacio Street – one.
Depaynos said the agency’s road widening projects are necessary improvements meant to ease traffic congestion. He said the agency strives to spare trees if based on actual project implementation, some could still be saved.
In the case of the Gov. Pack Road project, Depaynos said DPWH has been permitted to cut 10 trees but only eight were cut.
Assistant District Engineer Glen Reyes said the DPWH had projects in the past where trees were spared and they built around the trees instead but this will depend on safety.
“Depende sa location ng project. Kung puwedeng iwasan (ang mga puno), bakit hindi? Pero dito, hindi naman pwedeng nag-widen tapos iiwan mo yung puno sa gitna. Disgrasya kapag ganoon kasi may obstruction sa kalsada,” Reyes said.
For Magalong, he said in his meeting with department heads last Feb. 2 that no entity should be spared if a structure or object is in the right of way.
“Ayaw nilang pabawasan yung mga puno nila. Nirarason nila mga puno nila ‘yun, pero nasa right of way naman pala,” Magalong said.
The projects will all be implemented this year. – Rimaliza A. Opiña