Manila Mayor and presidential aspirant Isko Moreno denied the claims of a group saying trees were cut in the ongoing construction of walkways and other facilities in Arroceros Park.
“I did not cut a single tree, and I guarantee you that,” he told Rappler on Thursday, November 18, in a phone interview.
He said the city government had put in a request from the environment department for the earth-balling of three trees but this application has not yet been granted.
“Those trees have to be transferred because they are near the entrance to the park,” he said, but emphasized that, without any approval from the environment department, the city government will not move the trees.
Moreno sent Rappler videos taken by Manila City staff showing how the cement pathways veered away from trees so that these would not have to be cut down.
One photo of by Save Arroceros Movement member Chiqui Mabanta shows tree logs and cut branches surrounding a standing tree.
But Moreno says the only trees that were cut were those that were damaged by storms and had to be taken out because they posed risks to park-goers.
He also said the group may be conflating the Arroceros Park redevelopment project with the nearby “esplanade” project of the Department of Public Works and Highways and Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.
Photos posted by Mabanta show a development on the banks of the Pasig River but right beside Arroceros Park.
Meeting with City Hall
To address the concerns of Save Arroceros Movement, the group that had posted photos of the park’s redevelopment, Moreno said he has invited them to a meeting on Monday, November 22.
In a message to Rappler, Save Arroceros Movement confirmed that a meeting had been set with City Hall and other concerned groups.
He also said he received no letter from any of the concerned citizens or groups, despite their claims that they had written to City Hall.
As for the elevated walkways and structures that displeased the groups, Moreno said “90%” of these were built on pathways existing in the park, hence no trees had to be felled.
The 47-year-old city chief said he remains committed to greening Manila. Under his watch, the 2.2-hectare Arroceros Park is to be expanded, to take up the area stretching from Arroceros Road (Villegas Street) to the Metropolitan Theater.
The redevelopment of the park was launched last September 8. Back then, the project description already stated that it involved adding elevated pathways, a children’s play area, and kiosks. – Rappler.com