LINGAYEN, Pangasinan –The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) may have lost its last opportunity to save the remaining standing trees along the Manila North Road (MNR) when it failed to muster a quorum in its scheduled special session on Wednesday (Dec. 2).

This was because in that special session attended only by Liga ng Barangay and ex-oficio board Member Amado Espino III and Sixth District Board Member Ranjit Ramos Shahani, the SP was to approve a resolution authorizing the filing of a suit against those pursuing the tree cutting on both sides of the MNR.

The special session was supposed to start at 11 a.m. on Dec. 2 but only Board Member Espino showed up. Then at 1:00 p.m., Shahani arrived and told newsmen that since only few aldermen were around, no quorum could be reached.

Newsmen did not see Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Calimlim, SP presiding officer, who said in an earlier talk to newsmen that the provincial board is maintaining its previous stand that there should be no more trees along that stretch to be cut.

In the special session, the SP was to approve Provincial Resolution No. 1711-2015 seeking to authorize Gov. Amado Espino Jr. to file a case against the Department of Environmenf and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) relative to the ongoing tree cutting along MNR, confined along the Urdaneta City-Binalonan, Pozorrubio-Sison stretch.

The tree cutting was covered by a new sanitation tree cutting and earth-balling permit dated Oct. 30, 2015 signed by DENR Regional Director Paquito Moreno but was received by the DPWH Third Engineering District only last Nov. 19, this year, authorizing the cutting of 589 standing trees and for the earth-balling of 107 other trees.

The permit has a life span of 45 days, commencing upon receipt of the same.

However, a report stated that up to December 2, at least one half of the standing trees were already cut. There was no report whether earth balling was undertaken by the Pahati Construction and Decelopment Corporation, a contractor of the DPWH undertaking the widening of the MNR.

In proposed Resolution No. 1711-2015, the SP intimated that the province of Pangasinan intends to file a case against the regional directors of DENR and the DPWH in connection with the massive tree cutting operations.

Thus, it is asking that the Province of Pangasinan, represented by Gov. Espino, would seek the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and a Writ of Preliminary Injunction for the defendants to cease and desist from further conducting tree cutting and earthballing along the MNR.

The SP holds that the SP already approved three resolutions expressing its opposition to the tree cutting along national and local roads within the province and in one occasion, has issued a stern warning to DPWH to refrain from such activity. PNA