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House greenlights DPWH to cut trees obstructing infra projects

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A House of Representatives panel has approved a bill authorizing the Public Works department to cut, ball, transfer, dispose or plant trees that are obstructing infrastructure projects without the approval of the Environment department.

The House committee on natural resources approved House Bill 4208, authored by Marikina Rep. Bayani Fernando, which grants the DPWH an exemption from securing tree cutting, earth-balling, transfer, disposal and planting permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its attached agencies.

Fernando said that the DENR does not know the nitty-gritty of road design and safety, hence, the authority on roadways should be with the road engineers.

He added the main consideration in the design of the roadways is safety for the motorists and the public as well as fast travel speed.

“This is the sole province of the road design engineer who has the knowledge and the responsibility in ensuring that this primary design feature is followed. And in no way a forester or a DENR guy would know the requirements of the highway,” he said.

The Marikina politiko also stressed that securing permits from the DENR adds to the bureaucracy and further delays the implementation of projects.

Fernando also requested the DPWH to buy five balling machine for each region, or 60 in all.

He said the LGUs are very much aware of the environment. “It is the local governments actually that are planting the trees and they would not tolerate the indiscriminate cutting of trees.”

Rep. Arnel Ty (Party-list, LPGMA), committee on natural resources chairman, said the bill is fully supported by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas.

Ty said that Alvarez and fariñas gave them directives to call on the DENR and the DPWH to have some executive arrangement between the two government agencies to not wait for the approval of the bill and to start the balling out of trees which are obstructing roads and causing accidents.

“The reason na nabanggit sa amin ni Speaker and Majority Leader, if you remember a few months ago, when we did the Mindanao Nautical Highway Inspection at yung North Luzon Highway Inspection,” Ty said.

Ty said the Department of Energy and the DENR already signed a memorandum of agreement in removing electrical posts posts that are hazardous to motorists.