House panel pushes for DPWH authority to cut road-obstructing trees

MANILA -- A House of Representatives' panel has approved a measure seeking to authorize the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to cut, ball, transfer, dispose or plant trees to expedite the implementation of national or local infrastructure projects.

According to a statement on Thursday, the House committee on natural resources, chaired by LPGMA Partylist Rep. Arnel Ty, approved House Bill 4208, which seeks to grant the DPWH exemption from securing tree cutting, earth-balling, transfer, disposal and planting permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its attached agencies.

Ty said the bill gained the backing of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas, who ordered the committee to talk to the departments in charge of the issues.

The House leadership directed the committee to call on the DENR and the DPWH to have some executive arrangement to start the balling out of trees that are obstructing roads and causing accidents even without the bill's passage yet.

Marikina Rep. Bayani Fernando, the bill's author, said securing tree-cutting, earth-balling, transfer, disposal and planting permits from the DENR only delays the implementation of DPWH projects such as clearing of road right-of-way and site clearing, development or preparation.

Fernando said he filed the bill to put the authority on roadways with the road engineers.

"The main consideration in the design of roadways is safety for the motorist and the public as well as fast travel speed. This is the sole province of the road design engineer, who has the knowledge and the responsibility in ensuring that this primary design feature is followed, Fernando said in his explanatory note.

Source: Philippine News Agency