by Julius R. Paner
With the on-going road widening project of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Davao del Sur, several Narra trees along the Cebulan, Astorga national road have been cut down. These trees are all century-old, fully-grown and have been with the community of Astorga for quite a long time traversing from generation to generation.
As an individual shaded with the compassion of tree canopies since my childhood days, I am a person whose love of trees is extraordinary. Sometimes, the forest is an instant refuge to ease my personal predicament either at home or in the office. I always have this feeling of relief whenever I am in the woodlands, that’s why whenever I saw forest being massacred or even a single tree being cut down, I always had an immediate feeling of anguish. My personal fight against cutting of trees is not new. I was even admonished before while reporting an incident of illegal logging in 2008. Even then, I cannot afford to just let this passion of loving trees gone with the wind. And here I am again now, today, for this same cause. Why? Plain and simple, trees are special creations which is synonymous to life. Let me share this fact to all of you:
“Trees are the longest living organisms on the planet and one of the earth’s greatest natural resources. They keep our air supply clean, reduce noise pollution, improve water quality, help prevent erosion, create shade and help make our landscapes look beautiful. Over the course of its life, a single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide while a mature tree removes almost 70 times more pollution than a newly-planted tree.”
It was just last week when I saw something tragic over at Cebulan upon seeing persons carrying chainsaws, the equipment they call ‘weapons of mass destruction.” There I saw huge narra trees lying beside the road like an innocent crowd being killed helplessly. Aside from the trees being slaughtered, there were billboards hitting before my very eyes with text in it that says “cutting of trees sanctioned by DENR.” Whatever reasons for giving DPWH and its contractors the permit to cut all those trees, I really felt sorry about this phenomenon. I see no basis why those trees should be killed. Physically, they were still not as old as the brains of some government functionaries are. Those government agencies should be punished.
I simply could not understand why these government agencies force to cut trees in exchange of the so-called road widening where in fact they could modestly divert road path to areas where there are no trees. First, there is no amount of road widening can fill up the roles and services provided by trees to mankind. Second, it is not the fault of these hundred-year old trees that they grow and thrive in Cebulan near the national highway. Definitely it is not their fault, let them live there for all eternity. Third, while the mandate of DENR is to plant more trees, this action certainly defeats our efforts to facilitate and join majority of tree planting activities.
When ordinary people are being punished when they commit sin by raping helpless women, I see no reason not to penalize and imprison government agencies when they mercilessly rape the nature. Raping nature is raping the human race as well.
To the Philippine government, particularly the DPWH and DENR who have been caught up between two major options of development and conservation, please be reminded that development is not development unless there are collateral damages. Development only happens if the welfare of the next generations is considered. If we are putting the lives of our children and grandchildren on the line with our present acts, the purpose of doing such is highly irrational.
Let me end this blog by quoting the line from Gifford Pinchot, “unless we practice conservation, those who come after us will have to pay the price of misery, degradation, and failure for the progress and prosperity of our day.”