BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
A group called Crusaders for Justice filed this week complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas against Bacolod City District Engineer Jaime Javellana and Community Environment and Natural Resources head Joan Gerangaya in connection with the cutting of decades-old trees at Araneta Street in Bacolod City last month.
Among the charges filed by the group, led by Dominador Villaluna Jr., were for grave misconduct, gross ignorance of the law, and grave abuse of authority.
Both Gerangaya and Javellana said they do not have copies of the complaint yet.
Gerangaya said there was no anomaly in the cutting of those trees because he followed the procedure as prescribed by law, adding that he made sure that he placed the interest of the public first before he issued the permit approving the cutting of trees.
He said that in the years that he has been the head of CENRO, this is the first time that he was charged for issuing a tree-cutting permit but he said it is a risk of being a public official.
He said he is willing to answer the complaint in a proper forum, Gerangaya said, adding it’s just unfortunate that the public refused to understand the situation.
Javellana, in an interview with DYHB Bacolod, said he could not give any comment yet as to the complaint since he has not received any copy.
But Javellana said he was not yet the city engineer when the cutting of trees was approved. He said he assumed office in January this year while the off-carriage improvement and shoulder-paving project along the Bacolod South Road, near the old Bacolod Airport, that resulted in the cutting of trees, started last year. Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia earlier formed a team, led by City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan, to investigate the cutting of trees but it has yet to release an official report on the matter.*