Vista's cutting down of trees in Baguio in order — DENR

Published June 29, 2020, 4:03 PM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Monday said the issuance of a permit to Vista Residences Inc. to cut down 53 Benguet pine trees and one Norfolk fir tree in its property in Baguio City was done in an open and “aboveboard” manner.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MANILA BULLETIN)
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MANILA BULLETIN)

DENR Regional Director in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) Ralph Pablo assured that the Villar-led property developer had met all the requirements for a special private land timber permit (SPLTP), including endorsements from concerned local government units. It had passed the most rigid scrutiny before it was granted a permit to specifically cut the 54 trees at Barangay Outlook Drive, he said.

“The grant of SPLTP to Vista Residences was aboveboard. The application for this permit was filed in 2018 and before that the company went through the tedious and lengthy process of getting the environmental clearance certificate (ECC), mayor’s permit and barangay certificate,” Pablo explained.

The DENR regional official noted that ample public consultation and investigations were made before Vista Residences was allowed to begin the construction work on its development project located at Barangay Outlook Drive.

Records show that Vista Residences was issued an ECC in 2017 and secured its barangay and mayor clearances in September and October 2018, respectively.

Pablo also clarified that the SPLTP issued by the DENR to Vista Residences was “subject to stringent conditions.”

He said the SPLTP carries “eight conditionalities” that must be fulfilled by the developer, including reducing to the minimum the number of trees to be cut and mandatory replacement of affected trees.

Pablo explained that the SPLTP clearly stipulated that with each felled tree, it must be replaced with 100 Benguet pine tree seedlings, for a total of 5,400 seedlings.

The developer should also pay for forest charges and secure a DENR transport permit in case the trees or its by-products would be removed from the project site, he added.

Pablo said the developer committed to double the tree seedlings to 10,800 during the June 25 meeting called by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong with DENR regional officials and Vista Residences executives.

Vista Residences had already turned over 5,400 tree seedlings to the city’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office.

Most of these seedlings were planted within the Wright Park, The Mansion, Pacdal Circle Park and Barangay Happy Hallow during the Arbor Day celebration on June 25, he said.

The developer has been given 50 days from May 4 to conduct tree-cutting activities within the project site.

Pablo assured the DENR regional office is closely monitoring the tree-cutting activities to ensure that all conditions in the SPLTP are followed by Vista Residences.