BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
The committee formed by Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia to spearhead the investigation on the cutting of decades-old trees along the Araneta Highway beside the old airport convened yesterday.
City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan, who heads the committee, said they will assign several people to do the field work for them and other tasks, adding that their main goal is to conduct fact-finding to know the real reason why the trees were cut.
Bayatan said they are going to look at underlying issues and will verify applicable laws and guidelines in connection to the incident.
He said that Leonardia did not give them any timeline on when the report should be finished but they will try to complete the investigation as soon as possible.
Once the investigation is done, Bayatan said, they will consolidate the report and submit it to Leonardia.
He said the investigation will not dwell on the cutting of trees beside the old airport alone as they will also look into similar activities in other areas, particularly along the Granada-Alangilan road.
A document obtained by the DAILY STAR showed that the Department of Public Works and Highways had asked permission last year to cut at least 400 trees in various areas of Bacolod, in the implementation of various projects.
In Barangay Singcang, where the old airport is located, 60 mangroves will be uprooted for the construction of revetment with floodwall along Magsungay River while 15 mango and santol trees are also affected by the same project to be built along the Banago creek in Brgy. Bata.
The construction of revetment with floodwall and the rehabilitation of a road in Sum-ag will affect 22 satin cotton, neem, Gmelina, mango, santol, talisay, and sambag trees.
Some 188 trees will also be affected by a road construction along the Granada highway, 40 trees for flood control structures in Brgy. Pahanocoy, and 15 trees for the establishment of an esplanade in Brgy. Mandalagan. DPWH projects in barangays Banago, Estefania, and Alangilan will also affect 43 trees.
Bacolod District Engineer James Javellana had said that the cutting of trees along the old airport was necessary as they posed danger to commuters and motorists alike, aside from the fact that their roots destroyed the footpath.
Leonardia said earlier that these “treasures” should not have been ravaged since the trees were already decades-old, adding that what happened was really beyond comprehension. “What happened was totally unacceptable,” he said.*