NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
The controversial cutting of giant Acacia trees in an ongoing construction of a modern Shell gasoline station is slowly getting justice after the Regional Trial Court (Branch 47) granted the Motion for Reconsideration on the petition for Mandamus.
Boholano lawyer Jordan M. Pizarras with co-petitioner, former City Mayor Dan Lim, asked the Court through Judge Rufo U. Naragas to reconsider its first decision dated August 29, 2023.
The court ordered the release to the petitioner’s list of documents contained in a Resolution docketed Civil Case No. 10019 for mandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
In his Motion for Reconsideration, Atty. Pizarras asked the Court to compel CENRO Officer-in-Charge Elena G. Suarez to release copies of the following documents, among others: (1). Private Tree Plantation Registration (PTPR) No. 02-2023-0027; (2). Private Tree Plantation Registration (PTPR) No. 02-2023-0028; (3). Private Tree Plantation Registration (PTPR) No. 02-2023-0029; (4). Map Showing Location of the Private Tree Plantation Owned by Forestview Realty & Development Inc. located at Barangay Taloto; (5). Memorandum, Department of the Environment and Natural Resources Community Environment and Natural Resources Office for: The OIC-CENR-Officer DENR-CENRO Tagbilaran Thru: The Chief LDPL/RPS, DENR_CENRO, Tagbilaran, Date: December 14, 2022.
Pilipinas Shell, the giant oil company, used the PTPRs issued by the CENRO to Forestview to justify the illegal cutting down of over a hundred-year-old acacia trees. This was admitted by the representative of Shell in the public hearing by the Sangguniang Panglalawigan.
These trees were planted at the turn of the century by Boholanos at the behest of the American colonial government through the Bureau of Public Works.
The Court agreed with Pizarras that the cutting of the four heritage acacia trees was illegal, being in violation of Section 16 in relation to Section 15 (a) of the 2007 Revised Code of Administrative Ordinances of the City of Tagbilaran which adopted acacia as a symbol of the strength and endurance of the city.
The law also penalizes the destruction of acacia trees as it is a symbol of Tagbilaran City.
The RTC noted the cutting down of trees found along public roads is likewise penalized under Presidential Decree No. 953.
The RTC ordered CENRO OIC Suarez to furnish Atty. Pizarras and the court, the documents specified in the Motion.
The documents will help identify those who were behind the illegal cutting down of the trees.
Those identified face investigation for violation of our environmental laws, the statement posted in Pizarra’s facebook account said. (rvo)