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Atienza: MMDA can't disregard environmental law


Updated February 17, 2009 12:00 AM [ philstar.com ]

MANILA, Philippines - Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Lito Atienza maintained yesterday that the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) must coordinate with his department on tree-cutting activities, insisting that they are within the mandate of his agency and not the MMDA.

The DENR-National Capital Region (NCR) also clarified that the 12-point cutting permit invoked by the MMDA in removing trees along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City for its road-widening project expired last year.

“Let’s put a stop to this public debate. The MMDA has no license to disregard environmental laws,” Atienza pointed out.

Citing records, DENR-NCR executive director Jose Andres Diaz said the MMDA was granted a 12-point cutting permit on Katipunan Avenue on March 28, 2008. However, Diaz also said this permit was effective for only 60 days.

Diaz noted that the permit includes the MMDA’s duty to inform the DENR-NCR office, particularly its Urban Forestry Division, beforehand about its plan to ball and cut trees along the major thoroughfare.

Diaz said the MMDA did not comply with this provision when it proceeded with its cutting and balling operations in Katipunan Avenue last week.

“We are not against the project. But they should adopt the proper procedure in balling and transferring those trees,” said Diaz, who conducted an inspection of the transferred trees and noted “serious lapses” in the procedure of balling the trees and in the transport of the balled trees.

Last Friday, Atienza issued a cease-and-desist order against the MMDA to prevent it from removing more trees along Katipunan Avenue.

The DENR found that a total of 25 trees of various species were removed and transplanted without a corresponding permit from the DENR-NCR. – Katherine Adraneda

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