Various sectors join call to save MacArthur trees

ANGELES CITY–Various sectors including fraternities and sororities from this city have expressed their opposition to the cutting of trees along MacArthur Highway to give way to a government road widening project.
In a statement, the Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Angeles para sa Kalikasan (NMAK) said they will not allow the cutting of more than 400 trees for the sake of a wider road.
“Kami na kumakatawan sa iba’t ibang organisasyon at sektor, kabilang ang mga fraternities at sororities sa mga paaralan at komunidad ng Angeles City ay mariing tumututol sa pagpuputol ng mga matatandang punong ito,” NMAK said.
“Hinding-hindi kami papayag na putulin at isakripisyo ang mga punong ito para sa naturang proyekto ng DPWH at ni [Pampanga First District Representative Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin],” they added.
The road widening project along MacArthur Highway in this city and in Mabalacat City was initiated by Lazatin and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Lazatin has earlier stated that the original project did not include cutting of trees.
The call for the protection of trees grew after the Save the Trees Coalition (STC) filed a civil case against Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Environmental Management Bureau in Central Luzon Chief Lormelyn Claudio.
STC leaders Cecile Yumul, Eugene Orejas, Louie Reyes, Dino Jose Doliente and Nole Arcevo filed the civil case.
STC is a known environmental group that fights for the protection of nature including trees.
Not anti-progress
STC and NMAK have clarified that they are not anti-progress but only against the destruction of nature.
In their statement, NMAK said road widening projects need not include cutting of trees like what they did in Kalayaan Avenue, Quezon City.
“Sa pagpapalawak sa Kalayaan Avenue sa Quezon City, sa halip na putulin ang mga puno, nilagyan ito ng ‘island’ na pumuprotekta hindi lamang sa puno kundi sa sasakyang dumadaan dito, habang nakagawa sila ng bagong lane sa naturang kalye,” NMAK said.
NMAK has also expressed their support to Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan for his firm position against the cutting of trees.
Pamintuan, along with Mabalacat City Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales, has earlier expressed opposition against the massive tree cutting.
The civil case filed by STC against environment officials is being heard at the Angeles City Regional Trial Court Branch 59, which serves as the special environment court.
STC Lawyer Francisco Yabut said they will only withdraw the case if government officials formally express that no trees will be cut for the sake of the road widening project. ●Charlene Cayabyab
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Mimosa Golf Estate, Clark Field (Clark Airbase), Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, Philippines
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