Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Visayas to ensure that no trees will be cut in the grave site for those who died of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Cebu City.

“I made some suggestions during our visit here to save the trees, (and) instead put the grave side by side with trees para hindi na kailangan magputol ng kahoy except sa may natumba puede maputol pero nakatayo puede ilagay yung magkatabi yung graves (so that no more cutting of trees except those that have fallen already those can be cut but those that are standing, the graves can be placed beside it),” Cimatu said during a virtual press briefing.

The environment chief and designated overseer of COVID-19 government response in Cebu, cited some cemeteries abroad where graves are placed right next to trees which made those graveyards compliant with environmental requirements.

The environment head said the design of the COVID-19 cemetery in Sitio Baksan and Patay’ng Yuta in the upland village of Sapangdaku in Cebu City can jibe with nature and transform the area into a “biological park” similar to one that he saw abroad.

“Ensure that graves will not cause pollution to the water basin in the area.”

He also instructed the regional office of the DENR to ensure that graves will not cause pollution to the water basin in the area.

Sapangdaku, Cimatu said, has its own river that leads to the tributaries downstream.

“I am directing my regional director here to make sure that the cemetery (will) be compliant to the environment and make sure we have to protect the environment especially yung tubig na bumaba sa river dyan (the water that is going down the river),” he said.

Mayor Edgardo Labella said the Cebu City Council will pass an ordinance authorizing the construction of the Covid-19 cemetery in Sapangdaku.

Last month, Cimatu visited the site of the cemetery to ensure that the project “will meet the highest health and safety standards”.

He said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases and the city government “have to ensure the development of roads leading to the site as well as the mango trees remain”.

“If the city can find a way to minimize the cutting of trees, the better.”

Cimatu said that “if the city can find a way to minimize the cutting of trees, the better”.

The proposal to build a cemetery exclusively for COVID-19 fatalities aims to address the backlogs in the city’s crematoriums.

The move is a result of the proactive approach being adopted by the city’s Emergency Operations Center headed by Melquiades Feliciano.


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