I’m no tree killer, says new Environment chief

By TJ Burgonio — Newly appointed Environment Secretary Jose Lito Atienza is so annoyed at being portrayed as a tree killer in the media, he has made a vow to plant up to 50 million trees in a fresh reforestation campaign.

In turnover ceremonies at the environment department witnessed by environmental groups Wednesday, Atienza sounded miffed when the touchy issue of the Arroceros Park came up at the press conference.

“There’s an allegation that I’m a tree killer. Wait, what tree did I kill? Since you’ve aired and echoed what has been irresponsibly said of me, all I can say is that I’ve never killed a tree,” he said.

“I’m a tree protector, tree planter and environment protector,” he declared.

The former Manila mayor’s appointment was opposed by green groups, saying they considered him unfit for the job because he had ordered the cutting of trees at the Arroceros Park in 2003 to give way to a city school building.

Atienza claimed that no century-old trees were cut down, and that saplings were transferred from the park to Baseco in Tondo, Manila, during the construction of the building.

He said that the Winner Foundation, which had forged an agreement with the city government in 1993 to develop the area into a forest park and opposed the construction of the building, had blown up the issue.

“I invite you to put this issue, once and for all, to rest. One of these days, we should go there and see if I had killed the trees there,” said Atienza who was wearing his trademark floral shirt.

“To call me a tree killer is not right. With the permission of my wife, maybe lady-killer is the more apt term,” he said.

According to Regina Roces-Paterno of the Winner Foundation, the condition of the park speaks for itself.

“To begin with, we had a perfectly good forest when he took over. Now it’s gone,” she said.

Winner sued to stop City Hall from taking over the park in 2003, but failed to get a favorable ruling from the Manila courts. Shortly after, Atienza closed the park to give way to the construction.

Trees have been cut since then, according to the foundation.

Winner again filed a preliminary injunction case in 2005. The case is awaiting resolution.

Meanwhile, Atienza’s successor as Manila mayor, Alfredo Lim, has reopened the park and vowed that no more structures would be built there.

Atienza, the fifth environment chief in the six-year-old Arroyo administration, indicated he would continue the “Trees for Life” project of his predecessor, Angelo Reyes.

Photo by Mari Adrian

Find more like this: Environment


  1. reb_el z says:

    “To call me a tree killer is not right. With the permission of my wife, maybe lady-killer is the more apt term,” he said.


    –> anyway, the real issue is not the trees or his environmental history, the real question the administration’s patronage…keeping all loyalties in congress including two family members in the top two congressional committe position just means there’s a threat that the president faces…

    she emphasized it in her sona address: “a president is only as strong as she wants to be”

    power struggle, especially during a reign of an unpopular president, reigns out during mid-term election where she wants to protect her maddness…lame-duck is what people called her, but she’s already passed measures to increase her strength: Human Securities Act, and the lesser known act which disallowed the public to view governmental records…

    atienza, cheers to u buddy…hopefully you’ll not sell out to foreign corporations as you did in manila!


  2. reb_el z. says:

    the two arroyo’s

    hahaha…thought this was funny:

    GMA rating still
    fishing for the bottom

    PRESIDENT Arroyo’s net satisfaction rating fell from negative 46.7 in January to negative 61.9 in July, the latest IBON survey revealed.

    The survey, which had 1,488 respondents, was conducted July 2 to 13 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

    The July survey showed that only 10.22 percent were satisfied with Arroyo’s performance compared to 72.11 who were dissatisfied with her, or a net rating of -61.9.

    The President’s marks were a lot lower than her scores in January where 14.67 percent said they were satisfied as against 61.35 percent who said they were dissatisfied, or a net rating of -46.7.

    Bringing out an old Palace line, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said “the presidency is really not a popularity contest and the President will just do what she thinks is necessary to improve the living conditions of our people.” – Regina Bengco

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