June 20, 2024

A Baguio court has granted the motion to quash the information against the accused in the reported poisoning of 45 pine trees in a private lot along Legarda Road, Baguio City in 2019.

Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 4 Judge Melita Amylesha Macaraeg, in a five-page decision dated May 20, has dismissed the case as its filing was time-barred by prescription.

This means the case against the accused Jasper Golangco, Jeremy Wilson Golangco, Pompidou Golangco, Imelda Lao, Esmeralda Lubos, and Lo Chen Wen was filed past the two-month prescribed period.

Records show that the supposed act of poisoning of the 45 trees along Legarda Road was committed sometime in March or April 2019 while the affidavit-complaint against the accused was filed with the City Prosecutor’s Office on Aug. 2, 2019. 

Earlier, the City Legal Office has filed a complaint against 12 officers and employees of Gateluck Corp. and Greatzone Enterprises for violating the Environment Code of Baguio, or City Ordinance 18-2016.

Section 226, paragraph “c” of the Ordinance 18-2016 provides, it shall be prohibited to deliberately cause damage and the death of pine trees by boring.

The trees were valued at P770,662.40. Forest charges, on the other hand, amounted to P32,489.60, pegging total damages at P803,152.00.

An officer and five employees of Greatzone Enterprises were likewise sued for boring and drilling four to five holes per tree and infusing poisonous substances causing the trees to die.

The case was assigned to the sala of Macaraeg, being the designated environmental municipal trial court. The rules of procedure for environmental case were used to resolve the motion to dismiss the case, or quash the information, or defer the proceedings.

Under the rules, the prescription period for violation of municipal/city ordinance concerning environmental offense is two months even if the witnesses claimed in their affidavits that the offense was allegedly committed on May 19 or 20, 2019.

Up to now, no improvement has been introduced by the property owners on the lot where the 45 pine trees were supposedly poisoned since the city filed a case. – Harley F. Palangchao