Earth-balling of trees along JASA starts

April 11, 2011
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) over the weekend have started trimming 24 trees of various species along the Jose Abad Santos Avenue (JASA), in preparation for their earth-balling and transfer to Villa Del Sol.
The trees have been subject of controversy when City Councilor Lito Ocampo raised opposition against their alleged “cutting” which will give way to the expansion of JASA and the construction of a flyover at the intersection along Lazatin Boulevard.
City Council committee on environment chairman Reden Halili told Sun.Star Pampanga that Resolution No. 2011-021, “granting permission to the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Korean Economic Development Cooperation Fund to remove (earth-balling) 24 various tree species along Jose Abad Santos Avenue and Lazatin Boulevard” will no longer be brought back to the committee level as it has already been approved.
During the last session, Ocampo filed a motion to rescind and repeal provisions in the resolution, particularly Provision No. 2, which allows for the cutting of trees. He has verbally manifested his resignation from the environment committee and vowed to re-assume the post only if the resolution is amended.
But Halili said: “Wala naman talagang cutting. As agreed upon during the last public hearing, earth-balling iyun. Maybe Councilor Ocampo got a bit confused and emotional since he claims to be an environmentalist.”
“We understand he is a neophyte and has many things to learn in legislation. In any case, it [the resolution] has been approved and we are implementing the resolution as mandated by law. It’s not really because of his objection or allegations of violation of internal rules as he claims,” he added.
A sign posted near the trees reads: “The earth-balling of 24 various tree species along the Jose Abad Santos Avenue (JASA) and Lazatin Blvd., to give way to the widening of JASA is hereby authorized as per permit dated Jan. 13, 2011 issued by Hon. Rogelio Singson, Sec. DPWH and Resolution No. 2011-021 dated March 30, 2011 of the Sangguniang Panglungsod, City of San Fernando as attested by Hon. Edwin Santiago, Vice-Mayor/Presiding officer.”
The sign also bore the name of Jose C. Ong, CESO IV, project director of DPWH and KEDCF.
‘One more condition’
Ocampo, however, posed another condition on his re-assumption of the vice chairmanship of the committee, even if Halili has pledged that no trees will be cut.
Ocampo, in a text message to Sun.Star Pampanga, said: “Will consider going back to the committee on environment once all 24 trees have been earth-balled and safely transferred in Villa Del Sol.”
At noon Sunday, two trees have been earth-balled and moved to Villa Del Sol, under the watch of the Save the Trees Coalition official Cecille Yumul.
‘A matter of commitment’
“Well, if that’s what he wants, so be it,” Halili and Vice Mayor Edwin Santiago said on the “additional condition” Ocampo wants prior to his return to the environment committee.
Ocampo’s colleagues at the City Council have since been persuading him to stay on the post, saying he could help the city more since he is a “self-acclaimed environmentalist” and member of the Save the Trees Coalition.
“We have given him advice on this. It’s a matter of commitment now. Maybe he could just do what I promised myself like to plant 5,000 trees in a lifetime. So far, I have planted 3,500. If he is really an environmentalist as he claims, then he should be sharing that to the council through proper legislation like maybe sponsoring a tree planting program rather than questioning and accusing the council of violating internal rules and railroading his views,” Santiago said.


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