May 31, 2016, Tuesday. Around 10:30 am I witnessed the unusual sight of a backhoe dismembering branches of Mahogany trees along the highway at the junction of Morong and Baras. I could not help it. I stopped driving and walked towards the man operating the back hoe. I asked him to stop but expectedly, he just looked at me with indifference and even a tinge of boredom in his eyes. “Why don’t you go to the mountains and stop the cutting there. DENR k aba? Nasaan ang papeles mo para patigilin kami. “
I tried connecting with whoever can help me. It was impossible. All I can do was document the cruel and totally heartless killing of trees by a man operating a backhoe. It was another sad day in the life of Mother Earth. On the rice field on the side of the road several trees were lined up like massacred men. I was reminded of the Maguidanao Massacre. I might as well give a name to this crime, The Morong Baras Massacre of Trees.
With only a few days left of the P Noy administration, the DENR and DPWH are at it again. They “successfully massacred trees in many places, from the San Fernado to Carcar Road in Cebu to the Manila North Road and now here in Rizal. It was difficult reaching either Secretary Singson or Secretary Paje. Definitely it is useless trying to reach Malacanang. If there was one thing that this passing administration failed to do, it is to raise the level of awareness, appreciation and respect for nature and the environment. Travelers, drivers and passengers alike simply passed along the highway where the massacre was taking place and hardly noticed the crime.
Is it too late Secretary Paje and Secretary Singson to save these precious trees. We cannot expect you to educate the public, particularly the workers of the DPWH and DENR who seem to treat trees as lifeless objects or things but you can stop, yes stop the senseless killing of trees.
I hope and pray that the next DENR Secretary under the new Administration will truly be a daughter and son of Mother Earth. “Doon kayo magpigil ng pagpuputol ng mga puno sa bundok. Daan ito. Wala kayong magagawa dito. Tatanggalin namin ang mga punong ito.” These words from the back hoe operator mirrors an attitude of disconnectedness and alienation from nature. Trees along the highway are without value and dignity. Trees belong to the mountains not to roads, highways, or to structures of steel and concrete.
I wonder how many trees were massacred under the Aquino Administration. Can the DENR and DPWH give us an inventory of all the trees they have killed whether in relation to the road widening project or to some other so called development projects? Who are answerable to the mass killing of innocent trees? Is this a matter for the Environmental Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera?
Fr. Robert P. Reyes OFM
Our Lady of the Angels Seminary