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Can DPWH plant 183,000 trees?

For the moment, thanks to the Holy Week break, 700 trees along MacArthur Highway in Pangasinan are safe from DPWH’s chainsaw crews. But as 1,229 trees have already been cut, is that reason to rejoice this Easter week?

In the name of progress, specifically of a project to widen a road that has become too narrow for the commerce of man and state in Sison, Pozorrubio, Binalonan, Villasis, Rosales and Urdaneta City, DENR issued a “special tree-cutting permit” last November to DPWH to cut 1,829 trees and earthball 107 saplings. A positive development is that for every tree cut, DENR will require DPWH to plant 100 new trees, or a total of 182,900 saplings on a 100 hectare plot in San Manuel, Pangasinan.

Is that good news or whispering/withering hope? The huge number of replacement trees boggles the imagination, considering how DPWH could not even force a contractor in Metro Manila to finish a simple road reblocking on time.

Cutting treesTree lovers, environmentalists and conservationists take the view that there are ways other than killing a generation of century-old trees in order to create a new and handsomer road. Following the ideals of green urbanism and global best practices, a road ought to be shared among trees and landscaping (1/3), pedestrians and bikers (1/3), and cars (1/3). Green Convergence and its allies ask for nothing more than respect for mature trees by creating an island of trees and adding new lanes to the right of trees for slow-moving vehicles.

As such, GC will argue its case orally before the Pangasinan provincial board. It also plans to file a temporary restraining order against any extension of the permit as sought by the board. The permit was good for 90 days counting from Nov. 3, 2013.

Three months to finish the massacre right after All Souls Day, through Christmas, the New Year and Easter. Now, failing to complete their loathsome work on time, the tree killers are asking for an extension, what cheek! If they couldn’t meet the deadline with their chainsaws and menacing machines, what makes you think they can plant 183,000 new trees before June 30, 2016?