Baguio City mayor sued for granting tree-cutting

Micaella Ilao, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 10 2019 07:19 PM

BAGUIO CITY - The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Cordillera (DENR) has filed a complaint against Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan and the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) for usurpation of authority.

The filing was prompted by the CEPMO's tree-cutting permit granted to a private developer this year.

The local government had approved the tree-cutting because the trees allegedly posed a danger to life and property.

It was in February when the project engineer had the tree-cutting operation along Legarda Road.

"Usurpation of authority of issuing a cutting permit kasi allegedly merong mga napasama sa cutting permit na sa tingin ng CENRO hindi na saklaw ng isang mayor ng pag-iissue," Director Ralph Pablo, Regional Director of DENR-Cordillera, said.

The environment department filed the complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman.

According to Domogan, it was only his ministerial duty to approve the tree-cutting permit endorsed to him by the CEPMO.

The mayor said he only approved the permit because he was told that the trees posed a danger to life and property. 

Domogan added he was concerned that the trees might cause an accident.

"Yun ang resulta ng investigation, that's why ang sabi ko, kung sakali may pagkakamali, sisihin natin 'yung mga nag-investigate [sa area]. Eh ako, halos ministerial ang trabaho natin," Domogan said.

CENRO also filed a case at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio against the project engineer and the owner of the lot.

CENRO had warned the builder to postpone the cutting of trees but the latter still continued with the operation.

"Finile-an namin ng PD 705 (Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines) yung namutol at yung may-ari kasi nung nakita ng CENRO yung permit nung una, sabi na ng CENRO na 'wag putulin pero pinutol pa rin nila," Pablo said.

The project engineer said they already filed a counter-affidavit to complaint.