DENR stops construction at new Cebu City COVID-19 cemetery, as 300 mahogany trees cut

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2020 06:06 PM | Updated as of Jul 09 2020 06:56 PM

Some 300 mahogany trees were cut without permit at a new cemetery under construction in Cebu City. Donna Lavares, ABS-CBN News

CEBU CITY - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources office in Region 7 has stopped construction work at a new cemetery for COVID-19 fatalities here as some 300 Mahogany trees were cut without permit. 

This as the local government sought new burial space in the city, a new hotspot for the coronavirus disease where cases continued to rise and corpses reportedly still remained in morgues. 

Mardione De Los Reyes, forester at the Enforcement and Monitoring Section of the City Environment and Natural Resources office, said the trees at a protected area in Barangay Guba were cut illegally. 

“Nag-iinventory kami, we’ll record down everything at ipapasa na namin ito sa opisina para sa gagawing imbestigasyon,” De Los Reyes said.

(We are doing an inventory, we'll record down everything and send to the office for the investigation.)

Barangay Guba Chair Orlan Herrera said a public hearing was only held when the trees had been cut down. 

Meanwhile, Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, who sponsored the ordinance for the construction, said officials were doing what is needed to comply with requirements. 

He said public health and safety depend on the construction of the new cemetery. 

“Umaapela ako sa DENR na gagawa sila ng solusyon upang mapadali ang proyekto dahil alam natin na gaano ka importante ito. Hindi tayo papayag na ’yung mga namatay sa COVID ay hindi mailibing nang maayos dahil wala silang pera panggastos sa cremation,” ayon kay Tumulak. 

(I appeal to the DENR to find a solution to speed up this project because we know how important this is. We can't allow that those who died of COVID-19 won't be given a proper burial because they don't have money for cremation.)

The Cebu City local government earlier reported that bodies have remained in hospital morgues as funeral homes and crematoriums were fully booked. 

Recent weeks have seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in the city, the only remaining area in the country under a strict enhanced community quarantine. 

As of Thursday, the city has recorded over 7,078 COVID-19 cases, with 2,983 recoveries and 260 deaths.  -- Donna Lavares, ABS-CBN News