DENR stops firm for cutting 1,000 trees

It would take at least 10 years to 30 years for a tree to reach maturity.

So imagine the length of time needed for new trees that will be planted to be fully grown after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Visayas found out that 982 trees had been illegally cut in the area.

The DENR has ordered SAEI, a Filipino company which develops renewable energy specifically solar energy, to stop its construction of a 113-hectare solar energy project in Brgy. Talavera, Toledo City.

“This is the biggest so far in terms of the number of trees cut and mostly premium and native tree species,” said DENR Regional Spokesperson Eddie Llamedo.

Raul Pasoc, community environment and natural resources officer (Cenro) in Cebu City, issued the cease-and-desist order on October 28 to SunAsia Energy Inc. (SAEI), through its project manager, Jose Enrique Tolentino. SAEI is the developer of the 55-megawatt project of First Solar Energy Corp.

Llamedo said that a barangay resident tipped off the Cenro about the illegal logging operation.

Upon learning of the information, Cenro-Cebu City and Cenro-Toledo City came to the project site on Oct. 26 but the officials of SAEI failed to present a tree-cutting permit to the inspectors from the DENR’s enforcement division.

The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Central Visayas also issued a notice of violation to First Solar Energy Corp. on Nov. 4 for the same violation, Llamedo said.

According to the memorandum addressed to Pasoc by Cenro-Toledo Supervisor Lutheran Hernando, a total of 982 natural and planted trees with species of Tipolo, Pangantoon, Bangkal, Bagalunga, Lanutan, Acacia, Narra, Mahogany, Gmelina, And Lamio trees were illegally cut including one Lamio tree with a buttress measuring five meters in diameter and believed to be a century old tree.

The illegal cutting activities were said to have started in September. The toppled trees were bulldozed and then covered with soil materials to hide it when inspectors checked the area.

The volume of felled trees is approximately 2,190 cubic meters or equivalent to 928,560 board feet with an estimated cost of P18.5 millio, with one board foot equivalent to P20.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 has already filed a criminal complaint last November 16 against 21 board of directors (BODs) and key officers of three corporations, a lot owner, and a steward before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Toledo City, Cebu for section 77 of Presidential Decree (PD) 705 or the revised forestry code of the Philippines as amended by Executive Order No. 277 and as renumbered by Republic Act 7161 in relation to Executive Order No. 23 or the ‘Unlawful possession of implements and devices used by forest officers’.

This was after the inspecting team noted that they continued the operations a week after the two cease and desist orders were issued by CENRO Cebu City and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 on October 28 and November 4.

The regional department “is not antidevelopment as long as it toes the line of the existing forestry and other environmental laws, rules and regulations,” Llamedo said.

Futhermore, DENR 7 Regional Director Dr. Isabelo R. Montejo in a statement said that they will continue to be very vigilant and mindful on certain activities that harm and destroy our environment and natural resources.

“We will not hesitate to file the appropriate case if warranted on those individuals who desecrate our environment,” added Montejo. (With reports from Inquirer.net and Cebu Headlines/Opinyon, Rosemarie Señora)

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Sunday, 19 January 2020
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