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520 trees in John Hay complex spared the axe

[ manilastandardtoday.com ] February 11, 2012

STATE-RUN Bases Conversion and Development Authority said it will not allow any lessee or locator to violate environmental laws.

Arnel Paciano Casanova, BCDA president and chief executive, said Camp John Hay Development Corp. was planning to cut 520 of 1,033 trees in the John Hay Special Economic Zone.

He said CJHDevco sent a demand letter to BCDA last December for the approval of all their permits pending before the One-Stop Action Center.

“CJHDevco wanted us to exceed our authority by demanding that we approve their pending tree-cutting permits,” Casanova said.

“When we did not give in to their demands, which may expose us to legal liabilities, they unilaterally rescinded the contract and are now claiming an atrocious amount of P14.4 billion from the government.”

According to Casanova, the Environment Department is the only agency authorized give tree-cutting and earthballing permits.

He said CJHDevco, which owed the government P3.024 billion, used the pending permits at the OSAC as excuse to evade their ballooning obligations.

“What they wanted us to do may be illegal,” Casanova said. “Now their flimsy excuse is backfiring on them.”

Recently, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a cease and desist order for the cutting of trees inside the economic zone.

The directive is based on Executive Order 23 from Malacanang on the moratorium on cutting and harvesting naturally-grown trees particularly in one of the biggest remaining pine forests within city limits.

The John Hay Management Corp., BCDA’s estate manager in the economic zone. said no permits have been granted the developer.

In its demand letter, CJHDevco required BCDA to “cause the approval of all the applications currently pending and overdue and deliver to CJHDevco within the same period, all corresponding permits, licenses and certificates covered.”

CJHDevco listed 15 permits pending at the OSAC with 10 permits for tree-cutting and earthballing.

OSAC records showed 520 trees will be cut and 513 will be earth-balled.

BCDA said except for disapproved application for tree-cutting permits, the OSAC has issued 89 permits in 2011 with 59 to CJHDevCo and its sub-lessees.

BCDA also said Ayala Land Inc. and other JH MC locators got their permits within the 30-day period.Julito G. Rada, Dexter A. See
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