Mayor Sara Duterte apologized over the cutting of trees at the rehabilitation-bound Clifford Park, owning up command responsibility while committing to planting new trees at the park.
The Mayor’s statement ended days of mounting public uproar on social media over the cutting of decade-old trees at the park along Roxas Avenue which is a popular convergence area for Dabawenyos.
In a statement released on Thursday, Mayor Duterte said she gave the approval for Clifford Park’s rehabilitation saying “the City Government of Davao intended to accommodate more people and enhance its tourism and recreational values.”
“I approved the proposed design and assumed that the project will build around the trees. However, it has come to my attention that several trees were felled down as park rehabilitation progressed,” Mayor Duterte said.
She went on to admit that it was her mistake not to solicit an explanation on the park design.
“I quietly assumed that no trees will be taken down,” she explained. “I sincerely apologize for the oversight and commit to plant trees in the park, incorporating it to the new design.”
In the wake of the recent furore over environmental concerns, Mayor Duterte said the city government will “commit to carrying out more programs to establish rural and urban green spaces, promote ecological balance, sustainable utilization and management of resources, and to continue raising public awareness of the importance of environmental protection.”
At the City Council last Tuesday (November 5), Environment Committee chair Councilor Diosdado Mahipus Jr, said he will conduct a committee hearing to investigate incident. This after Councilor Pilar Braga delivered a privilege speech asking which agency ordered or approved the cutting of the trees.
Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines prohibits the cutting of trees without permit.
Braga said she does not object the plan of the city government to convert and enhance the area into a children’s recreational park as long as it will consider preserving the trees in the area.
With the statement of Mayor Duterte, Braga’s queries may have found answers and Mahipus’ plan to conduct an investigation may be moot and academic.