NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
In a press briefing last Wednesday at the City Hall attended by officials of the City Government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, City Mayor Jane Yap assured the protection of the heritage trees in Tagbilaran City through a proposed Ordinance which will be submitted to the Sangguniang Panlungsod through Vice Mayor Adam Relson Jala.
This was disclosed in the said briefing to lay out all the facts and clarify certain issues arising from the cutting of acacia trees located in barangay Taloto which caused public uproar.
The proposed heritage trees ordinance will protect not only centuries old trees but all trees in the city that have historical, cultural and contextual value.
“The creation of an ordinance protecting identified heritage trees in Tagbilaran City will be the City’s long-term measure in protecting the environment. There will be more developments in Tagbilaran City but environmental factors will not be disregarded. We are committed to continue protecting and preserving our environment,” Yap said.
Other resource persons during the meeting were Elena Suarez of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Tagbilaran; Forester Ariel Rica of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) Bohol; Cory Lyn Estavillo of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Bohol; Chief of Staff John Geesnell Yap II and City Legal Officer Atty. Kathy Blanche Jamila.
City Councilors Nerio Zamora II and Charles Cabalit were also present together with the department heads.
Due to the confusion about the identity of CENRO Tagbilaran which has the legal mandate on matters relating to the tree cutting permit and Private Tree Plantation Registration, Mayor Yap also took the time to explain that the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City-ENRO), an office under the City Government of Tagbilaran, is different from CENRO Tagbilaran that is under the realm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office.
It was also declared in the said gathering that the City Government has lodged a complaint at the EMB against the project proponent for the cutting of trees contrary to the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued to the same.
A joint ground inspection will also be conducted by a composite team from the City Government, DENR, CENRO Tagbilaran and EMB to ensure compliance to the conditions set forth in the ECC.
It was also proposed that for every single tree that will be cut in Tagbilaran, it will be replaced with 1,000 trees to be planted in the City. The Mayor said that the Building Permit of the proposed developer remains suspended pending results from the investigation.