(Palawan News photo)

Unchecked illegal tree cutting in the highlands of northern barangays in Puerto Princesa may have been the cause of the destruction of important bridges on the national highway, according to the 3rd District Engineering Office (DEO) of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Engr. Arthur Torillo, chief of the 3rd DEO’s maintenance unit, said that he personally saw illegally cut trees in the vicinity of the destroyed bridges, which may have been swept down from the mountains by Typhoon Odette’s floodwaters.

He cited trees he saw with chainsaw marks that were already dried in a river in Barangay Babuyan, which he believes originated in Brgy. Tagabenit.

“Isa sa nakita natin kung bakit nagkaroon ng maraming debris sa mga tulay ay may mga nakita kami na mga kahoy na putol na. Ang ilog po ng Babuyan ay ang pinanggalingan nyan ay Tagabenit, napakalayo. Isipin natin na ang mga kahoy ay nakarating doon sa mga tulay ay mga putol na. Ibig sabihin ay may mga nag-i-illegal doon sa taas,” Torillo said Friday during the UP UP Palawan program of the Tactical Operations Wing West (TOW West).

After Odette’s onslaught, the north national highway that connects the city to northern Palawan became impassable for several days to all types of vehicles due to destroyed bridges, including those in Langogan, Concepcion, and Babuyan.

He claimed that the cut trees obstructed the flow of river waters.

“Nakita po natin na ‘yong approach ng Babuyan ay nawalan ng embarkment o lupa sa ilalim dahil ang mga debris ay napunta na doon sa tulay,” he said.

“Kung iisipin po ay 100 meter ang width ng bridge, napuno ng debris na humarang sa tulay kaya ang tubig ay naghanap ng madadaanan. Naka-hang na ang ating pavement,” he added.

“Sa mga kababayan natin na gumagawa ng pag-i-illegal dyan ay tigilan na ninyo ito dahil lahat ng kababayan natin ay napi-perwisyo ng hindi magaganda ninyong ginagawa na pagpuputol ng malalaking punong kahoy,” Torillo said.

“Sana ay tingnan din natin ito kasi kung lagi natin titingnan ang epekto sa mga infrastructures ng DPWH at sasabihin na mahina ang pagkakagawa ay isa din ito, ang illegal logging, kaya lumalakas ang agos ng tubig. Nakita natin ang mga kahoy na putol na at tuyo na,” he said.

Torillo said out of their P95 million calamity fund request from their head office, P35 million had already been downloaded to them to repair and rehabilitate the bridges that were affected by the typhoon.

He also said that the DPWH regional office, the Palawan 1st District Engineering Office, and the Provincial Government of Palawan also contributed equipment and staff to the clearing effort.

“[Sa] P95 million initial request for calamity fund ay may ibinigay na sa amin na P35 million plus. Nagsasagawa din tayo ng negotiated contract dahil sa state of calamity para madali ang pagtatrabaho ng mga contractor natin,” Torilo said.

“Ang regional office ay nagpadala ng loader at malaking 10-wheeler dump truck. Hindi lang nakarating kaagad dahil sa amihan so inabot po ng seven days ang byahe sa barge. Nagtulong-tulong po lahat at ang Palawan 1st District Engineering Office kasama ang Provincial Government kaya naging madali ang naging trabaho,” Torillo added.

(Palawan News photo)

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.