(Left) City ENRO Atty. Carlo Gomez and (seated in blue) DENR-CENRO Felizardo Cayatoc during an assembly in Barangay Concepcion. (PN File)

Environment officials in Puerto Princesa emphasized the importance of properly inventorying fallen trees left behind by Typhoon Odette, stating that this is necessary to prevent individuals from unlawfully collecting lumber.

According to an advisory signed by City Environment and Natural Resources Officer (City ENRO) Atty. Carlo Gomez and Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (DENR-CENRO) Felizardo Cayatoc, all uprooted trees, whether located in public or private property, or even planted in private property, will be considered government property.

According to the advisory, barangay officials will account for all fallen trees and will be the principal office to grant approval on how the lumber will be used.

Cayatoc stated in an interview that, while they recognize the inconvenience caused by fallen trees and branches, such as property damage, as well as the urgent need of those who lost their homes due to the storm, they are steadfast that everyone must still follow the proper procedure to prevent illegal activities.

“May mga information tayo na may mga nangunguna, nangingialam o nagpapatistis without the DENR, City ENRO, and LGU. Of course, gagawin natin lahat, fastest means, ‘yong mga action na ‘yan, at the individual request of private landowners na kung saan may natumbang kahoy na tinanim nila, o doon sa public land na may mga natumbang kahoy, o mga tinanim through reforestation,“ Cayatoc said on Tuesday.

Cayatoc was also asked to comment on City Councilor Elgin Damasco’s recent interaction with DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, in which the councilor requested more lenient measures on tree cutting and timber collecting for people who had been affected by the storm.

Cimatu reportedly said that he will contact the DENR regional office to evaluate Damasco’s request and to assist with relief operations for typhoon victims.

“Okay naman ang ginawa ni Councilor Damasco, wala namang problema doon. Basta tayo, kailangan ng tamang inventory at permission,” said Cayatoc.

Gomez also said in an announcement to residents in Barangay Concepcion on Tuesday that existing environmental laws are still in full effect, including the possible legal actions that may be taken against individuals who do not follow these laws. He added that distribution of the timber resources will also be given to affected families assessed and validated on the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWDO).

“Kahit nasa kalamidad tayo, ang batas natin ay umiiral pa rin. Kaya magkakaroon ng imbentaryo ng mga natumbang puno at kailangan lahat naka-coordinate (sa Barangay),” Gomez said.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.