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Lawmakers want answers why trees in two parks were felled

A lawmaker called for a probe on why mature trees in Clifford Park and Freedom Park along Roxas Avenue were chopped down reportedly for an unknown project.

Councilor Pilar Braga, committee chair on education, science and technology, arts and culture, has proposed an ordinance aiming to protect and conserve trees in all areas in the city.

In her privilege speech during a regular session on Tuesday, the councilor questioned whether the decision to cut down the trees was supported by a permit.

“These trees in Clifford Park and Freedom Park fronting Ateneo, Marco Polo and the Red Cross building are considered ‘millennium’ parks. Meaning, it has been standing there even before of us have been born,” she said.

According Braga, Interface Development Interventions, Inc., executive director Chinkie Peliño-Golle told her there was no prior consultation before the trees were felled.

“Was the committee chairperson on environment of the city council invited for a consultation? Were our barangay officials informed about this move? Whatever the plan is for the area, be it a park or whatever, can not it be done without cutting the trees? Can’t not these precious trees be uprooted and transferred to some place reasonable?” she said.

“There can be many creative ways to deal with trees. Let us not take our trees for granted,” she added.

Braga also pointed out the importance of trees following recent calamities that hit the city.

“In the height of climate change and global warming, which we evidently experience nowadays, we need these trees to protect us and the environment,” she said.

She referred this concern to the committee on environment.

In response, Councilor Diosdao Mahipus, Jr. said he will schedule a committee hearing right away to find out what happened.

“We will conduct the necessary committee hearing because we have to observe due process and hear the sides of the affected individuals, especially those who caused the cutting of the trees and their basis. It can be that these trees are near to collapsing, or it may that electricity is affected and the like,” he said.

Mahipus also elaborated the importance of studying the law on cutting of trees before doing such action.

“You cannot cut a tree without a Department of Environment and Natural Resources permit. We have to know the parameters or requirements for one to be able to secure the cutting permit, because apparently, due to development projects in the city, trees in the city can be affected, that is why we have to know how to regulate it,” he said.

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