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DPWH to cut 2,000 trees in Albay road

By Manuel T. Ugalde

Some 2,000 trees standing along the national highway of the 1st District of Albay are slated to be felled by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to hasten the long-delayed road widening project in the area as a result of the P2 billion infrastructure budget cut in 2018.

District Engineer Rainero Zerda of the DPWH Albay 1st District Engineering Office, confirmed to Bicol Mail that his office is in the rush to complete the 98-kilometers long road widening project, which is an alternate route to Manila via the Tiwi - Sagnay road in Camarines Sur, in the event that Maharlika Highway in the Albay’s 3rd District is impassable.

Zerda, who was assigned in Albay only last January, said his office has begun the demolition of concrete boundary markers with the initial removal of the boundary markers in Malilipot town built by the Malilipot local government unit (LGU).

He said the privately-funded boundary marker located in the boundary of Malinao-Tiwi donated and built by the towns wealthy families has been already demolished last June after a long negotiation with the donors and the Tiwi LGU.

Zerda said the boundary marker of the Albay 1st and 2nd Districts situated between Legazpi City and Sto. Domingo town is scheduled to be demolished by Aug. 24.

The cutting of 2,000 trees under the road widening project, according to Zerda, will be undertaken based on road sections. At present, the project is ongoing along the Sto. Domingo Diversion Road.

Zerda said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) already approved the cutting of the 2,000 trees as early as 2019.

He is counting on the support of LGU officials regarding the demolition of numerous waiting sheds located along the highway in the 2nd District, Zerda said.

To recall, the removal of trees along the national highway in Albay’s 1st District in roads was stopped in 2013, after then Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda ordered the provincial board to file criminal and administrative charges against then district engineer Teodoro Castillo, for cutting 50 beautifully aligned old trees along the 7-kilometer long Malinao – Tiwi road subject of a road widening project.

Salceda described the cutting of the trees in roads as a methodical deception that God cannot forgive.

Castillo was appointed district engineer of the Albay 1st District Engineering Office in September 2013. He was, however, spared by Salceda from the administrative and criminal charges involving the cutting of 50 trees after a dialogue between the two. Castillo was relieved from his post by then DPWH Sec. Rogelio Singson in November 2014.

Zerda said his office is operating on a P2.8 billion budget under the 2021 General Appropriation Act , however, he expects to receive additional funds amounting to a total of P4 billion for infrastructure projects in his district.

He reported that his DEO has so far completed 45 percent of its target in road widening project for 2021. The project, which aims to expand the road network from two lanes to four lanes highway began six years ago.

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