Court junks TEPO versus golf project


BAGUIO CITY,  – The city’s Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 5 denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the heirs of Tunged seeking for the reversal of its earlier decision to dismiss the petition for the issuance of a Temporary Environment Protection Order (TEPO) against the ongoing golf course project of Sta. Lucia Realty and Development, Inc. for alleged lack of merit.

In a 2-page order, Judge Maria Ligaya V. Itliong-Rivera stated that relative thereto, the recommendation of the technical services division, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), was directed to take action and submit its report to the court.

The court admitted that it appears that there were violations of the provisions of Presidential Decree (PD) 705 or the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines prior to the issuance of the tree cutting permit to the golf course developer.

However, the court stated that it does not understand why were the recommendations of the DENR’s technical services division not allegedly acted upon by the agency but the court cannot take the aforestated circumstances into account in reconsidering its January 19, 2019 order that denied the issuance of the TEPO against the golf course developer.

According to the order, it should be noted that the violations of Sta. Lucia in allegedly cutting trees had been committed and that the same acts are reportedly separate and distinct from the matters subject of the case.

On January 19, 2019, the court recalled the TEPO it earlier issued in the said case.

The heirs of Tunged subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration on the ground that the special permit was secured only after illegal cutting of trees were already conducted.

The court noted that the special tree cutting and earth balling permit was issued by the DENR on August 9, 2018 which was the basis for the cutting of 33 pine trees and the earth balling of 2 similar trees.

On the other hand, the court took note of the memorandum issued by personnel of the DENR’s technical services division addressed to the DENR-CAR regional director as to their findings and recommendations resulting from an ocular inspection they conducted on March 15, 2018 wherein, as a result of the ongoing excavation activity by Sta. Lucia, there were more or less 100 pieces pine trees, alnus and other vegetational species that were already destroyed.

Because of the said findings, the DENR-CAR’s technical services division recommended the issuance of a cease and desist order to Sta. Lucia Realty and Development, Inc. on their excavation on the remaining clustered trees and other vegetational characteristics in the area; and a case be filed against the developer of the golf course for violation of Section 68 of PD 705, as amended for cutting several forest products without the necessary permits.

The heirs of Tunged expressed their disappointment on the court ruling and that they are seeking the advise of their legal counsel for the possible filing of a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA) for grave abuse of discretion on the part of the court among other justifiable reasons.

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