DENR halts ‘tourism highway’ project in Aurora due to environmental threat

Published March 11, 2019, 3:57 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Ariel Avedaño 

BALER, Aurora – The provincial office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here disclosed Monday that a Notice of Violation (NoV) has been issued against the firm which is undertaking the first phase of the “tourism highway” construction in Dipaculao town for failure to present Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) while conducting earthmoving and cutting of trees in the project site.


Alfredo Collado, DENR chief for Aurora, said that the construction company was ordered to refrain from any earthmoving and cutting of trees in the three-kilometer by-pass road section which shall traverse the forest zone in Barangay Dinadiawan, pending the submission of an ECC which the regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPHW) in Region 3 has yet to provide.

In imposing the first NoV dated December 11, 2018, Collado said that then DPWH Region 3 director Antonio Molano, who is now DPWH undersecretary, had already been advised by the community office of the DENR in Northern Aurora district to submit an ECC on the affected “tourism highway” project as early as February 26, 2018 as stipulated on another written communication dated October 23, 2018 but no compliance has been made.

In another letter dated December 12, 2018, barely a day after the issuance of NoV against the construction firm, Merliza Torre, newly designated district DENR chief for Northern Aurora, again reminded newly designated Region 3 DPWH director Roseller Tolentino about the same requirement for the project.

A two-page Administrative Order number 2018-16 signed by DENR Roy Cimatu, reiterating the “Guidelines on the issuance of permits on affected DPWH projects”, was also attached to the letter to Tolentino.

Two months after, Tolentino responded to the DENR notice and said that the DPWH has already applied for an ECC, which included the processing of tree cutting application for the suspended work on the “tourism highway” road project.

“We can pursue government projects without compromising the environment and this is thru an ECC dahil ito ang magdedetermine ng mga magiging mitigating factors para maiwasan yong pagguho, paglandslide and other environmental disasters later on. Kung hahayaan lang natin, eh di sige sementuhin na ‘yong buong Pilipinas para sa Build, build, build projects eh paano naman yong mga areas na dapat i save for environmental purposes, Collado said.

“Kaya ipinatigil namin yong project simula pa noong Disyembre kasi wala silang sini-secure na cutting permit eh kailangan doon sa cutting permit yong ECC. As of December nga merong 30 logs doon ang nakita. Sumulat na kami sa contractor na i stop nila ang operation hangga’t wala ‘yong cutting permit at ECC” (We instructed the project to cease from operation since December for failure to present cutting permit, it must be covered by an ECC. In fact, there were at least 30 logs found in the area. We have already cautioned the contractor to stop their operation until cutting permit and an ECC are presented), Collado also said.