Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, January 30, 2009

Olongapo principal charged for ‘massacre’ of trees

A PUBLIC-school principal based in Olongapo City is now in hot water for the massacre of trees inside the school compound.

Environment Secretary Lito Atienza has ordered the filing of criminal complaints against Ellen Agabao, principal of Zambales National High School, allegedly after she allowed 12 fully grown trees inside the school compound to be cut down on January 13.

The trees were cut down without Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) permit.

At the same time, Atienza has ordered an investigation to determine the administrative liability of concerned DENR officials for allowing the cutting of the trees, the same officials who found principal Agabao liable for violating Presidential Decree (PD) 953, which penalizes the unauthorized cutting, destruction, damaging and injuring of certain trees, plants and vegetation.

PD 953 penalizes offenders with six months’ to two years’ imprisonment or P5,000 fine or both at the discretion of the court.

Atienza said prior to the tree-cutting in the area, he directed field personnel to prevent the activity. That is why Atienza also gave the said field personnel 48 hours to explain why they should not be charged administratively for failure to stop the “killing of trees.”

“I received reports that trees will be cut in the area. This prompted me to instruct, without any delay, the field personnel in the area to stop such activity. Since tree-cutting in the area still took place, I will make the field personnel accountable and liable for what happened,” Atienza said.

Charged with Agabao before Olongapo City Prosecutor Ruel Samonte was her labor contractor, Erick Nathaniel Ellano, who admitted that neither he nor Agabao secured a permit to cut the trees.

Atienza warned environmental violators that the department will relentlessly enforce environmental laws.

“Our determination to protect our trees is anchored on our willingness to prosecute anyone, anywhere that the law is violated,” Atienza said.

Atienza said Agabao’s “reckless disregard” for trees was unacceptable and ironic, saying that Agabao, who claimed to be an advocate of a clean and green environment, allowed the cutting of the trees to give way for the beautification of the school grounds.

The 12 cut trees consisted of mango, Japanese acacia, eucalyptus, gmelina, agoho, duhat and coconut.

Atienza also pointed out that Agabao failed to set the example to students who are painstakingly being enlightened by the DENR through information campaigns on the importance of protecting the trees for future generations.

In a report to Atienza, the provincial environment and natural resources officer (Penro), Nelson Gorospe, said his personnel immediately rushed to Zambales National High School after receiving a report about the cutting of trees.

“The cut trees were nowhere to be found upon inspection. Only the tree stumps were used as basis in determining the species and count of the cut trees,” Gorospe said in his report.

It will be recalled that Atienza ordered the filing of criminal charges against the chief of the Intramuros Administration for the cutting of trees in front of the Manila Cathedral.

The cutting of the trees violated the permits issued by the DENR National Capital Region Office, which allows only the cutting of small trees, not fully grown acacia and narra trees. Written by Jonathan Mayuga / Business Correspondent

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  • its suppose to be OCNHS right, the writer obviously not from Olongapo had the name of school wrong

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/23/2009 12:29 PM  

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