‘Spare trees from road clearing works’

TREES are cut for the ongoing road widening works in Tigbauan, Iloilo. But the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said trees are not covered by road clearing operations ordered by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. (F. A. Angelo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo 

CUTTING of trees by the roadside is covered by a different set of policies, hence local government units (LGUs) should first coordinate with the concerned agencies before hacking down plants that grow alongside roads.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) 6 Regional Director Ariel Iglesia made the clarification following reports that some LGUs cut down trees in keeping with the road clearing operations ordered by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.

According to Iglesia, tree-cutting is usually done during road widening.

“We have to consider that thing. There are policies. Yung cutting of trees is covered by another policy and yung usually kina-cut yan pag-widening. Wala naman tayong ginagawang widening of roads,” he told Daily Guardian in a phone interview on Tuesday.

He stressed that road widening is different from the road clearing operations that was ordered by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in July 2019.

Magkaiba kasi yung widening and public roads clearing. We have to take into consideration about cutting of trees, sabi ko nga it is covered by a separate policy,” he said.

Iglesia said LGUs should first coordinate with concerned agencies like the Department of Environment and Natura Resources (DENR) before cutting trees that obstruct the roads.

Recently, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año clarified that the road clearing order of the national government should not be used for the purpose of road widening and cutting of century-old trees situated along roads.

“We wish to emphasize that the purpose of Memorandum Circular 121-2019, in compliance with the directive of the President, is to ‘return to public use, all public roads and sidewalks that have been appropriated for private use.’ In other words, it is for purposes of returning to the public the use of all public roads and it should never be used for road-widening purposes,” Año said in a report published by Manila Bulletin.

Año clarified that the memorandum is being used in parts of the country to remove trees and demolish waiting sheds that do not even obstruct major roads.

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte gave a 60-day ultimatum to all local chief executives through DILG to reclaim all public roads being used for private purposes and to clear all the illegal structures and road obstructions.

The deadline officially ended on September 29, 2019.

Iglesia said that the validation team already started validating the reports of the LGUs since Monday.

The validation is expected to finish within the week, Iglesia added.