Acting on the complaint of an environmental group against the cutting of centuries-old trees along the route where the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) undertakes a road-widening project, a regional trial court (RTC) has ordered the temporary halt of tree-cutting through a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) issue.
“The Court is convinced by the allegations in the Complaint as supported by the evidence adduced during the summary hearing that the matter is of extreme urgency and the plaintiff will suffer grave and irreparable injury if the cutting of trees will not be restrained,” according to the disposition of Judge Leo L. Intia of RTC Branch 27.
In the complaint filed by Edgardo M. Castro and several others who represent the environmental group “They Grey, We Green”, they asked the court to issue a TEPO to save the trees along San Felipe Road and Magsaysay Avenue in Naga City.
Also included under the TEPO are trees along Liboton-Magsaysay Road covering the Barangays of Liboton, Peñafrancia, Balatas and Concepcion within Naga City.
Another area placed under TEPO is Naga-Carolina-Panicuason Road, also in Barangay San Felipe.
The group noted that in May-June this year, more than 23 trees had already been cut along Magsaysay Avenue.
Reacting to the TEPO, Richard Ragrario, assistant district engineer of the second engineering district of Camarines Sur that supervises the road-widening project, said they will abide by the order.
But Ragrario said they will continue the road-widening work in San Felipe Road without cutting, which would result in trees being left in the middle of pavements.
Lucy Castañeda, spokesperson of the DPWH, confirmed that in cases where there are problems such as this, the DPWH usually avoids cutting the trees but continues with the road work.
She also said DPWH Regional Director Danilo E. Versola will issue a formal statement regarding the TEPO on Monday.
But the city government of Naga has approved the cutting of the trees along the road as revealed by a city councilor during the regular session of the city council (Aug. 8).
Councilor Salvador Del Castillo said that last year, they passed a resolution asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the DPWH to cut trees along the road within Naga City.
But Naga City Mayor John Bongat said they respect the TEPO issued by the court.
The court was convinced “by the allegations” of the complainants that “aside from the beauty, shade, clean and fresh air contributed by the trees, the trees absorb carbon dioxide while giving off oxygen.”
The TEPO also cited the argument of the complainants that “there is no evidence that widening of roads ease traffic congestion. On the contrary, when a road is widened, more cars pass just like the EDSA—a very wide road where traffic congestion is a daily occurrence.” (JEJ/PNA)