BAGUIO CITY – The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, approved on first reading a proposed ordinance formally declaring all pine trees in the city as heritage and protected trees of the city and for other purposes.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Leandro B. Yangot, Jr. stated that the proposed measure will be applicable in the entire city.
Without prejudice to other administrative, civil, or criminal offenses as may be filed against violators, the ordinance disclosed that any person who violates any provision of the same shall upon conviction be subjected to a fine of P5,000 per violation and imprisonment of 6 months or both at the discretion of the court.
If the violator is a juridical entity, the ordinance disclosed that the managing officers and other persons responsible for any violation shall be liable for the aforesaid penalties.
Further, if the violator is an alien, he or she shall be subject to national laws and procedures on deportation after serving his or her sentence.
If the violator is a local official or employee, the local government may institute administrative proceedings, without prejudice to the rights of any affected person, upon verified complaint by any person.
Except in heavily meritorious cases such as when pine trees pose danger to life and property, the ordinance stipulated that the same can be cut.
The ordinance tasked the Office of the City Mayor in coordination with the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) to monitor and formulate the guidelines necessary for the successful implementation of the measure.
The ordinance claimed that the city is facing the reality that in due time, it will lose all the pine trees in the name of development and its title as the City of Pines and the Pine Tree Capital of the Philippines.
Earlier, Baguio City had been dubbed as the City of Pines and Pine Tree Capital of the Philippines because in the past, pine trees abounded in most parts of the city.
However, due to the fast-paced development in the city resulting to urban decay, pine trees have been cut resulting to the situation where pine trees had become reportedly an endangered species.
The ordinance emphasizes that scientifically, pine trees provide oxygen for humans, aside from absorbing the toxic carbon dioxide.
Based on studies, a pine tree absorbs as much as 150 liters of water, then releases it to recharge ground water.
At the same time, pine trees are said to prevent landslides and erosions that pose danger to life and limb that is why the need to declare them as heritage trees for them to be protected and preserved.