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Case on tree cutting still pending in CA

The legal battle between the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 3rd District Engineering Office (DEO) and an environmentalist group over the Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) on the cutting of a solitary tree in San Felipe, Naga City remains pending before the Court of Appeals.

Engr. Richard Emmanuel Ragragio, DPWH 3rd DEO assistant district engineer said the subject of the case on appeal is the last tree standing, a mahogany, which was spared when the court issued the TEPO.

To recall, the DPWH already felled 83 trees in the course of its road widening project along the Magsaysay-Liboton-San Felipe Road when a TEPO was issued on Aug. 8, 2017 by RTC Branch 27 Judge Leo L. Intia in Civil Case No. 2017-0089 (Castrol et al vs Versola et al). By the time the case was decided on Nov. 16, 2018, only a lone mahogany tree remained uncut and standing.

A similar case specifically Civil Case No. 2018-0136 for Environmental Protection Order against DPWH 3rd District Engineering Office (DEO), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Office V and the Naga City government filed in Branch 61 of the Regional Trial Court in Naga City was the subject of an amended compromise agreement (ACA) issued on Dec. 16 last year.

The ACA, approved by RTC Branch 61 Judge Soliman M. Santos, Jr., covered the remaining 26 uncut trees out of the 98 trees approved for cutting by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) along the DPWH road widening project in San Felipe, Naga City.

Prior to the issuance of the TEPO on the remaining 26 uncut trees, the DPWH had already cut 78 trees of various species based on another DENR Special Tree Cutting Permit issued in favor of the DPWH.

Based on the ACA, only 11 of the 26 trees are to be cut by the DPWH, sparing the 15 trees from being chopped.

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