Fifty-four fully grown pine trees were cut down in Baguio amid the COVID-19 crisis to give way for a project of Vista Residences, a company owned by the family of Senator Cynthia Villar.

A Special Private Land Timber Permit issued on May 4 in Quezon City and signed by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary for Field Operations and Muslim Affairs Jim Sampulina allowed the cutting of 53 Benguet Pine and a Norfolk Island Pine in Purok 3, Outlook Drive.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said that he’s unhappy with the said move. “We are saddened because we feel it is a big blow to our Re-greening Master Plan amid our request to the Office of the President for a tree-cutting moratorium,” he said.

“While the proposed moratorium has been taken over by this health crisis, we need to follow this up to ensure that our remaining trees will be preserved,” Magalong added.

Meanwhile, the DENR has ordered Vista Residences to replace each cut tree with 100 seedlings of Benguet Pine in compliance with Memorandum Order No. 2012-02.

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