DENR eyes Baguio City rehab

By CNN Philippines Staff

Following the rehabilitation of Boracay island and Manila Bay, environment officials have set their eyes on Baguio City next. 

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said he has assigned a team to conduct a month-long study of the tourist destination’s pine forests. He noted that the number of pine trees in the city continues to dwindle.

“Because Baguio is pine trees and pine trees is Baguio. So noon sabi nga nila have you noted, pag-akyat mo sa Baguio nanganganoy na ang pine trees, ngayon hindi na kasi kokonti na lang leaves niya,” Cimatu said Sunday. 

[Translation: Because Baguio is pine trees and pine trees is Baguio.  Before people have said when you climb Baguio it smells of pine trees, now that is no longer the case because they have fewer leaves.]

Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said they will also study if the decrease in the number of pine trees had a natural cause. 

“Bibilangin po ‘yan (trees) and at the same time masiguro na hindi na mabawasan at kung maaari madagdagan pa. ‘Yan ang main objective niyan. Titingnan din kung baka may natural cause kaya unti-unting namamatay ang mga pine trees. Pag-aaralan din po ‘yan,” Antiporda told CNN Philippines’ Newsroom Ngayon

[Translation: We will count the trees and at the same time make sure the number will not decrease and if possible we’ll add more. That is the main objective. We will also look into the possibility of a natural cause to why the pine trees are dying. We will study that too.]

Local agriculturists have also noticed that many pine trees have been dying as early as two years ago. 

Antiporda added that closing the city to tourists and visitors, similar to Boracay island’s closure in 2018, may not be likely. 

“As much as possible, gagawin po natin yan na ika nga hindi naaabala ang negosyo sa Baguio dahil ang sitwasyon diyan iba rin sa sitwasyon ng Boracay… pero nakikita natin eh iba naman ang operasyon na ginagawa ng taumbayan ng Baguio kung kaya’t nakikita ng DENR mas mabilis ‘yang magiging rehabilitasyon,” he said. 

[Translation: As much as possible we will conduct it without causing trouble to the businesses in Baguio because the situation there is different from the situation in Boracay…but we can see that the local government of baguio operate differently so the DENR expects the rehabilitation to be completed faster.]

Local agriculturists have also noticed that many pine trees have been dying as early as two years ago. 

Cimatu said he is also looking into restricting building construction on the city slopes and may order the suspension of issuing building permits.

The Baguio City government welcomed the environment chief’s suggestions. “If that will be imposed, it is possible that can be imposed in Baguio…There are sectors that will oppose it but many will also welcome that development,” City Councilor Elmer Datuin said. 

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