MANILA, Philippines – At least 1,200 Cebu netizens joined an online petition to save 154 century-old trees along the Naga City to Carcar City highway south of Cebu.
The petition in Change.org calls on Environment secretary Ramon Paje and Public Works secretary Rogelio Singson to “reconsider” the “permit to cut” issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) central office for a road widening project.
Local tour guide Balbino Guerrero, who started the petition, reminded the secretaries of the historical and ecological importance of the trees.
“We are all aware of the importance of the trees in our ecology. These trees had been the mute witness of Cebu’s history and development,” Guerrero said.
The trees were planted upon the order of then Cebu Governor Dionesio Jakosalem at the turn of the century.
According to Guerrero, DENR 7 Executive Director Isabelo Montejo Jr. allowed the DPWH to cut the trees as long as the 3 affected barangays would agree. Guerrero added that the regional environment office said a study was needed to ensure the tree-cutting would not affect biodiversity, carbon sequestration and water storage capability.
“Please spare these trees for our children’s sake,” Guerrero added.
Why save the trees?
The Freeman columnist Cherry Piquero-Ballescas said more Cebuanos should join the campaign because of the trees’ significance.
“This…petition is not just for the trees. These trees represent history, life, sustenance. More importantly, the trees remind us about God who is the only One who can make, create trees,” the Ballescas said.
Sheira Travero, one of the individuals who signed the petition, likened cutting the trees to having an abortion.
“To cut trees in order to proceed to their road widening project? Then what? Plant again more trees and cut it again? Its like having sex again and again and deciding to have an abortion,” Travero said.
Another petitioner, Hazel Monte de Ramos from Bayugan City, Caraga Region, said cutting the trees would diminish Cebu’s “natural beauty” as a tourist destination.
“As a former resident of Cebu and a regular visitor, it saddens me to think that you would destroy God and nature’s artwork in the name of supposed ‘progress,’ though it doesn’t sound like progress to me,” she said.
The petition was amplified through a combination of e-mail blasts, social media campaigns and features in 3 regional newspapers. Netizens from as far as Reykjavik, Iceland joined the campaign. – Rappler.com