DENR, Government Agencies, Philippines

On August 19, 2009, two weeks before the September 8 town fiesta, the century-old acacia trees lining the national highway of the historic town of Guindulman, Bohol, Philippines were cut for the purpose of giving a prominent view of the building claimed by the municipal administration as its major accomplishment.

The mayor’s decision to cut the trees was on the pretext of public safety, however, there was no official report pointing to its hazardous existence. Environmental and structural experts declared the tress safe, part of the scenic sights of the national highways.

She failed to realize how important trees nowadays and their significance in the socio-cultural and historical heritage of the people in Guindulman and the entire Bohol povince.

We, the concerned Boholanos residing in the Philippines and overseas, strongly condemn the senseless cutting of century-old acacia trees in the historic town of Guindulman, Bohol. We strongly believe that such acts of the local officials are unforgivable.

The acacia trees are not only part of the life and culture of the people, those trees stood witness of the town’s struggles, trials and triumphs. Those trees also show-cased the cultural heritage of the municipality, therefore, the aesthetic values of those trees cannot be at par or compromised with any development project Guindulman undertakes.

We believe that persons in authority should be held accountable for their actions. What they did is a total disregard of all environmental efforts in preserving the Mother Nature, not withstanding, the insult they inflicted to the entire generation of Guindulmanons, the Bohol population and the Philippines as a whole. It is a total gross negligence leading us to believe that the incumbent mayor and the members of Sangguniang Bayan apparently abuse their powers and authorities.

The Honorable Ma. Fe Piezas, the incumbent mayor’s defense for her irresponsible acts which is for the safety of the public is a total lie. The Pacific Consultant International (PCI), consultants of the Bohol Circumferential Road Improvement Project (BCRIP-2) did not recommend the cutting of the trees when the national highway road was built in 2006. It was indeed illogical that the trees became a hazard three years after the Japanese environmental and structural experts deemed the trees safe and part of the scenic sights along the national highways. It is highly unacceptable that the main purpose for cutting the trees is to give a prominent view of the building claimed by the municipal administration as its major accomplishment or pet project. The damages are irreparable.

The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office who issued the special permit is also equally liable with the local officials. No matter how sick and old those trees were, concerned officials must exhaust every possible means to save them. On this aspect, they failed us.

It is therefore, our moral obligation to see to it that the perpetrators of this ecological massacre in Guindulman will answer for what they did. The pitiful trees cannot cry or beg for mercy, but we the people can seek justice on their behalf. We should always remember that we did not inherit the environment, we borrow this from our children. More than anything else, on this particular situation, we shall see to it that justice will be served.

Moreso, we urge the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to conduct an investigation on this issue, not only in this Guindulman case, but in all future applications to avoid repetition of committing the same grievous mistakes.

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The Justice for Century-Old Acacia Trees in Guindulman, Bohol, Philippines petition to DENR, Government Agencies, Philippines was written by Crystal Geiger and is in the category Environment at GoPetition.