Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The coming perfect storm

Environmentalists in ecology-conscious Olongapo City are up in arms over the cutting of centuries-old narra and mahogany trees inside a public high school campus and called on Environment Secretary Lito Atienza to go after the culprits. In addition, they asked the regional office of the Department of Education to slap administrative charges on the school principal, Ellen Agabao.

Councilor Jong Cortez, chairman of the city council’s committee on environmental protection, accused school authorities of allowing the massacre of the old trees after the environmental group Protect and Preserve to Prosper reported the matter to local authorities. The local group said Agabao and other officials of the Olongapo City National High School were unable to explain why the trees needed to be removed without first seeking permission from the DENR and other local offices.

“We have a law that states the cutting of trees requires permission from the DENR. Obviously no permit was obtained. The DENR should now go after the violators,” the PPP said in a statement. The local environmental watchdog urged Atienza to apply the long arm of the law fully in Olongapo to serve as warning to those who would attempt to do the same in other places.

“Teachers should be teaching our children to care for the environment, not to destroy it. They should serve as role models in nature preservation. But Agabao showed her students the exact opposite,” said Dr. Art Mendoza, director of the James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital and an officer of the OCNHS Alumni Association. Mendoza said the trees had long been a part of the daily campus life of past and present students, having been there for as long as anyone can remember.

Alumnus Cesar Santiago recalled that on hot days, students often held their classes under the shade of the now-cut trees. “It is sad that future students of OCNHS will no longer enjoy the experience,” Santiago said.
--Manila Standard

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