LINGAYEN— "Is it Mark Cojuangco who is playing politics in the tree cutting issue?"
This was the big question posed by 6th District Representative Alfonso Bince, Jr. in reaction to the former congressman’s statement against the provincial government including the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, in relation to the issues regarding the cutting of trees, along the Manila North Road.
In his privilege speech during the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan last September 22, Bince emphatically said that the SP has never played politics.
“Let me state for the record, that the SP has never, never played politics,” affirmed Board Member Bince.
He clarified that the reason for the passage of Provincial Resolution No 400-2014 is to reiterate the goals of Provincial 269-2014. He said “if the board has passed Resolution No. 400-2014, this is an offshoot of the concerns and apprehensions of well-meaning environmentalists like the Greenresearch headed by running priest Fr. Robert Reyes and others who have no ill-motives to oppose the tree-cutting of Mr. Cojuangco.
Earlier issues had Cojuangco react to an agreement made between environment organizations and government and private entities which has led to the declaration of the ‘no more cutting of trees’ policy during a consultative meeting held in August.
Apparently, Cojuangco referred to the resolution and the agreement as just " a piece of toilet paper" which the provincial leadership has resented saying the remark has shown great disrespect to the province’s legislature and the provincial officials.
According to Bince, Cojuangco even questioned the resolution’s author, BM Generoso Tulagan, Jr., SP chairman of environment committee, whom the latter said was not even from the 5th district as Tulagan represents the 3rd District.
Bince in his speech chided Cojuangco to read the column of Neal Cruz of the Philippine Daily Inquirer who described Cojuangco as someone who has no imagination for being furious because he wants the cutting of trees to continue.
"Roads can be widened without cutting of trees. It has been done many times before, not only in the Philippines but also in many other countries.," Bince quoted Cruz.
In response to Cojuangco’s claims that the SP has enacted a resolution which is in conflict with the environment code of the province stating that section 5 paragraph B of said ordinance allows the cutting of trees within a 10-meter distance from the center line along the right way.
But BM Bince who has presented his legal observation confirmed there is no conflict between the environmental code and provincial resolutions 269-2014 and 400-2014.
He further explained that a resolution is just an expression of the sentiment of the enacting body where it expressed its opposition to the tree cutting as a result of the concerns of many that the SP must take cognizance of.
“The resolution does not amend the environment code,” Bince added.
Towards this end, the board member from the 6th District has reiterated SP’s position saying “the Sangguniang Panlalawigan does not seek to delay what is legitimate and beneficial to the people of Pangasinan.”
“Let not Mr. Cojuangco say that SP members who come from other districts outside of the 5th District do not show any concern or interest on matters that affect the entire province,” Bince said.
Bince said that “while they are elected by districts, we are board members of the Province of Pangasinan, in the same manner that congressmen are elected by disticts, and member of congress can have interest in any matter that concerns the country.”
This, is also the position of the members of SP Bince said adding “it does not matter whether we come from the first or sixth districts, we are all members of the Pangasinan SP.” /ADV