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Contractor has no city clearance in cutting CICM Home Sweet Home pine trees

NO CLEARANCE. The CICM owned Home Sweet Home at Marcos Highway had to say goodbye to several pine trees after the contractor of the road widening project commissioned by the Department of Public Works and Highways – Baguio Engineering District cut eight trees and is expected to fell 28 more but has been stopped. The city denied giving clearance to the tree cutting, it appeared. Photo from Father Geraldo Costa’s Facebook Page

The city denied Monday that the contractor of the road widening at the Home Sweet Home protion of the Marcos Highway sought for clearance from the city.

In a meeting with officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways – Baguio Engineering District, the Community Environments and Natural Resources, the contractor and Saint Louis University president father Gilbert Sales, which is also owned by the Congregatio Immaculati Cordies Mariae (CICM) Monday, City Environments and Parks Management Office head Atty. Rhenan Diwas denied that a clearance was issued in favor of the contractor, Public Information Office head Aileen Refuerzo.

Refuerzo, quoting Diwas, said that the contractor has acquired clearance to cut six trees near the circle, three of these are leaning towards the road, one of the city’s most congested areas.

Refuerzo added that there was no application for the cutting of 36 trees as earlier announced by the DPWH – BED, all of which are within the peaceful CICM owned Home Sweet Home, which is home to their retired priests.

Last Friday, the CENRO – Baguio stopped the cutting of trees by the contractor to pave way for an investigation for alleged violations.

CENRO – Baguio head Leandro de Jesus said eight trees, however, have already been felled.

“As of now, only eight trees were cut. These include four agoho, two pine trees and two avocado trees,” said De Jesus.

He added that some of the trees spared from the cutting had their roots exposed which entails remediation measures before the cutting can resume.

In a letter to the DPWH – BED, CICM Provincial Superior Father Jessie Hechanova asked for consideration of their concern in sparing the 36 trees from being cut.

In his February 2 letter, the former SLU president raised “their concern regarding thirty six (36) trees , most of them are Benguet Pine Trees, which are reportedly to be cut for the proposed widening project.”

Hechanova, former treasurer of the Panagbenga, said the trees give the city its natural charm that earned its monicker as “Summer Capital of the Philippines.” He wrote: “It is for this reason that Baguio City is known as the ‘City of Pines’.”

He added: “More than the refreshing green sights provided by these trees, there are undeniable environmental benefits like the reduction of air pollution and the prevention of soil erosion that these majestic pine trees give us.” He added: “It is our responsibility to protect and preserve what is left of the green patches in Baguio City to ensure a sustainable healthy environment for future generations.”

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