'Not an endangered species': Official defends cutting of 300 mahogany trees for new cemetery in Cebu
A local official defended Friday the cutting of 300 mahogany trees in Barangay Guba, Cebu City to make way for a new cemetery, saying mahogany trees are not considered an endangered species.
Speaking to ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, Councilor Dave Tumulak of Cebu City's 2nd District said he met with environment officials, barangay captains and a representative of the Inter-Agency Task Force about the plan to create more burial space after Cebu became the new hotspot for the coronavirus disease.
"'Yung mga mahogany na 'yan, sabi ng mga taga DENR, hindi naman po considered na endangered species 'yung mahogany," he told TeleRadyo.
He added that the city government owns the property but a caretaker had decided to plant the trees on the idle land.
The City Environment and Natural Resources Office earlier stopped construction for a new cemetery for COVID-19 fatalities in Cebu due to lack of permit for the cutting of mahogany trees. It said the area is part of the Central Cebu Protected Landscape, Tumulak said.
Some of the protected areas were also placed under agrarian reform, he added.
The Cebu City local government earlier reported that bodies have remained in hospital morgues as funeral homes and crematoriums were fully booked.
Recent weeks have seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in the city, the only remaining area in the country under a strict enhanced community quarantine.
Tumulak said many families cannot afford the P60,000 cost for cremation for coronavirus fatalities, hence the need for more burial space.
"If cadavers are allowed to pile up, problema po 'yan," he said.
As of Thursday, the city has recorded over 7,078 COVID-19 cases, with 2,983 recoveries and 260 deaths.
ABS-CBN TeleRadyo, July 10, 2020