BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance formally declaring all pine trees in the city as heritage and protected trees and for other purposes.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Leandro B. Yangot, Jr. stated that the local legislative measure will be applicable in the entire jurisdiction of the city.
Without prejudice to other administrative, civil, or criminal offenses as may be filed against violators, the ordinance stipulated that any person who violates any provision of the measure shall upon conviction, fined P5,000 for every violation and imprisonment of 6 months or both at the discretion of the court.
If the violator is a juridical entity, the ordinance stated that the managing officer and other persons responsible for any violation of the provisions of the measure shall be liable for the penalties provided.
If the violator is an alien, he or she shall be subjected to existing national laws and procedures on deportation after serving his or her sentence.
If the violator is a local official or employee, the ordinance added that the local government may institute administrative proceedings, without prejudice to the right of any affected person, upon verified complaint by any person.
The ordinance pointed out that except in highly meritorious cases, such as in instances tress pose danger to life and property, the same can be cut.
The ordinance tasked the City Mayor’s Office in coordination with the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) to strictly monitor and formulate the appropriate guidelines necessary for the successful implementation of the pertinent provisions of the measure.
Yangot claimed that Baguio city has been dubbed as the City of Pines and Pine Tree Capital of the Philippines due to the fact that pine trees in the past abound in the locality.
However, he said that due to the fast paced development in the city resulting to alleged urban decay, pine trees were cut resulting to the situation where pine trees had become endangered species.
Scientifically, pine trees provide oxygen for humans aside from the fact that it absorbs carbon dioxide. A pine tree absorbs as much as 150 litters of water then releases it to recharge ground water. Pine trees prevent landslides and erosions.
Yangot asserted that the city is facing the reality that in due time, it will eventually lose the pine trees in the name of development, thus, its title as the City of Pines and Pine Tree Capital will eventually wane.
The ordinance was referred to the concerned committee of the local legislative body for study and recommendation whether or not the same will be passed on second and third readings prior to its full implementation.
The local legislative body is currently winding up its remaining 3 regular sessions for the term before the expiration of the term os the present batch of members.
By Dexter A. See
Banner photo by Armando M. Bolislis