Baguio starts probe on ‘murder’ of pine trees

Baguio starts probe on ‘murder’ of pine trees

BAGUIO CITY— Mayor Benjamin Magalong has ordered the inspection of “dead trees”, which were requested to be cut to assure that these were not intentionally “killed”.

Magalong ordered the inspection of the trees as the city government has filed a case before a court for the “murder” of 45 pine trees.

“We have to see. That incident triggered the awareness that it is not only happening on that lot because where will they get an idea that such is possible. All the dead trees covered by requests for cutting will be subjected to physical inspection to assure that they were not intentionally ‘killed’,” Magalong said on Wednesday.

Two weeks ago, the mayor led an inspection team, composed of officials of the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), at a vacant private property on Legarda Road where all grown trees planted on it have turned brown.

The inspection was the result of a tip from a concerned citizen on the alleged intentional “killing” of the trees.

During the inspection, the team found that the trunk of the trees was bored with holes and a chemical substance was injected, causing the trees to “die”

“Patay na ang mga puno at hindi na mare-revive pa (The trees are already dead and there is no way of reviving them),” Magalong said.

Due to the discovery of the team, Magalong has ordered his men to make an inventory and submit a report of a list of trees on public land, which needs to be cut for further investigation.

“The order is to assure that request for cutting off ‘dead’ trees must first be inspected by officials from the CEPMO, CENRO and the mayor’s office to determine if there is human intervention in the death of the trees,” said Benjie Macadangdang, the mayor’s assistant- in- charge of the barangays.

Macadangdang said the team’s discovery on the property at Legarda is an eye-opener.

“It does not mean that the trees are in a private property that the lot owner can just kill it,” he said.

He also said the mayor’s order also empowers the barangay officials, making their participation more important in environmental protection.

Macadangdang said they will also look at the condition of the trees on construction areas to assure that they are not also intentionally killed to give way to development.

Cases filed vs. “tree murderer”

On August 2, the city government filed a violation of the city’s environment code before a court against Gateluck Corporation for “intentionally killing” 45 fully grown pine trees on its property on Legarda Road.

Magalong said the DENR in the Cordillera Administrative Region (DENR-CAR) is preparing a separate case for violation of Presidential Decree 705 or the Forestry Code.

“There are two cases, the DENR will file PD 705, environment law and the city [for a violation under] an ordinance),” the mayor said.

He mayor said they are still awaiting confirmation of the kind of chemical used to “kill” the trees but based on initial identification, it was a calcium carbide (kalburo), which is used in artificially ripening fruits.

“That is the initial result of the findings, we are waiting for the confirmation,” he said.  Liza Agoot / PNA –