DAVAO CITY — City Mayor Sara Duterte has backed the environmental group’s opposition on the proposed cutting down of trees in the contested Mt. Makabol-Alikoson conservation area (MMACA), a nesting area of the critically endangered Philippine eagle, in the hinterlands of Marilog District here.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) XI issued a Private Land Timber Permit with PLTP No. RXI-001-2021 in favor of Ling-Ling Wu Lee for the cutting of 121 “naturally grown trees of various species” in Sitio Falcata, Barangay Salaysay in Marilog District here.
In her letter addressed to DENR XI Regional Executive Director Bagani Fidel Evasco dated December 7, Duterte said that the City Government “fully supports” the request of the Philippine Eagle Foundation and the Sustainable Davao Movement.
Duterte said the trees covered by the permit issued by the DENR are within the MMACA “which under the Section 8 of the 2007 Watershed Code of Davao City, is identified as an Environmentally Critical Area (ECA).”
Duterte said as a biodiversity area, the MMACA is” home to various vulnerable species of birds and other wildlife endemic to Mindanao.”
“It is also the nesting site of our national bird, the critically-endangered Philippine Eagle, which the Philippine Eagle Foundation and other organizations have been continuously protecting for many years now,” Duterte added.
Duterte also said that the area “replenishes the aquifers of the Suawan-Kulafu-Sub Watershed within the Davao City River Basin.”
In a public statement issued Thursday, Dec. 9, Evasco said Lee has voluntarily stopped the cutting of trees in the area since the photos of the cutting of the trees were posted on social media by purok leader Oliver Ancapoy in October.
Evasco said they will “endeavor to coordinate” with the city government to validate and clarify “if A and D areas and titled properties in Sitio Falcata, Barangay Salaysay are covered” in the declared conservation area.
He said they will also “monitor and validate” the area with regards to it being a nesting and roosting site of the Philippine Eagle.
“The DENR XI is not privy to the metes and bounds of the declared Conservation and Environmentally Critical Area in Barangay Salaysay based on the Davao City Watershed Code,” Evasco said.
Evasco said at the time of the approval of the permit, the DENR-XI was “not aware of any telemetric data” regarding the nesting trees claimed by the PEF inside the contested property.
Based on the copy of the permit, the trees to be cut include four Bagtikan trees, 15 Lauan, 44 Tanguili, 22 Agoho PIne, and 36 Ulayan with diameters ranging from 40 cm to 85 cm and a “a net harvestable volume of 131.06 cu. m.”
The said area was covered by Transfer Certificate Title No. 146-2016018903. Based on the permit, “the logs and derivable wood materials to be recovered from the cut trees” shall belong to Lee “subject to a payment of forest charges to CENRO office amounting to P160, 255.05.
City government lauded
The Sustainable Davao Movement, one of the groups that initiated the signature campaign against the cutting of trees in MMACA, lauded the city government for taking a stand on the issue.
“We are glad that the City Government of Davao, through Mayor Sara Duterte, give their full support to prevent the cutting of these ecologically and culturally significant native trees in MMACA,” it said in a statement on Wednesday (Dec. 8).
“The strong position of the City Government of Davao highlights the significant role of local government units in conservation efforts and the promotion of Local Autonomy, especially the management of its natural resources,” it added.
The group calls on the DENR to “listen to these multiple voices.”
“It is a chorus reminding DENR of its true mandate – the protection and conservation of our natural resources,” it added.