This developed after Cebu City agriculturist Joelito Baclayon requested Jonji Gonzales, Fifth Avenue Property Development Corporation Communications Consultant, to transfer the ball-out trees to the SRP similar to the ones uprooted from the current site of the South Road coastal tunnel.
Gonzales said the firm officials are considering Baclayon’s request.
Gonzales, however, clarified a formal request must be sent to their office before this could happen.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, for his part, said the fear of cutting trees at the Ciudad project site should not be used as a basis to oppose the development project, which is expected to generate employment opportunities for the city.
Rama said it is “ridiculous” to forego development in exchange for environmental preservation.
He said the two could co-exist.
“There will always be ways to rearrange trees as part of development,” he said.
Rama cited as an example the trees that they removed from the Plaza Independencia grounds through earth balling during its rehabilitation last year.
Earth balling is the process of transplanting trees. The entire tree, including its roots, is uprooted during the process and transferred to another area.
Rama said they had trees at the Plaza Independencia earth balled and transferred to the SRP while the rehabilitation project was ongoing. The trees were later returned to the plaza when its rehabilitation was completed.
Rep. Tomas Osmeña said in an earlier interview that earth balling does not necessarily save trees.
He said many of the trees removed from the Plaza Independencia died when these were transferred to the SRP.
Mayor Rama said Osmeña is only finding reasons to oppose the Cuidad project, something that he has taken personally.
Since he is now city mayor, Rama said, he will ensure that development projects, including the Cuidad project, would continue in the city.
“Let them (Fifth Avenue) go on filing the requirements and I will give them the permits allowed by law,” said Rama.
Rama said it was unfair for Osmeña to block the Cuidad project because of his personnel reasons.
He said it was not also wise to divert all new investments into the South Road Properties (SRP) as Osmeña plans.
The mayor said he does not see any reason why restrictions should be imposed on the Cuidad project.
Earlier in April, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 “returned” Ciudad project’s Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), a required document before starting construction of any development.
Yesterday Provincial Agriculturist Necias Vicoy made an ocular inspection at the Ciudad site.
Vicoy said that the cutting of non-endemic trees is one “sacrifice” and “normal” part of any development.
Apas barangay captain Ramil Ayuman and Fifth Avenue officials led by architect Libby Baysa joined in the inspection.
Ayuman said he supported the Ciudad project.
He said his constituents would benefit from the project. /Doris C. Bongcac and Jessa Marie J. Agua