Written by Dexter A. See
BAGUIO CITY -— A regional trial court has stopped work on the extension of SM City here amid a public protest over the planned removal of trees to give way to its P1-billion plans including a seven story “green building”.
For the past two days, SM management started putting up a large canvass and plywood panels at the mall fronting Governor Pack road as the first batch of trees are earthballed for transfer after clearance by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to a site along Upper Session Road.
RTC Branch Judge Antonio Esteves issued a temporary environment order effective for 78 hours which was received by SM management before noon Tuesday, copy furnished Mayor Mauricio Domogan.
“The Civil Code provides the right of persons to their private properties,” he told Manila Standard. “SM had complied with the pre-requisites of their project.”
Senior Supt. David Lacdan, police chief, said he expected on untoward incident to happen even as he gave the assurance of public security with instruction to the ground units to exercise maximum tolerance.
“The situation in the SM property is normal,” he said. “We are trying our best to give everyone a chance to air their views peacefully but when we see that they go beyond what will be tolerable, we will be constrained to disperse them.”
Environmentalists led by various organizations, namely, the Cordillera Ecological Coalition, Cordillera Green Network and other groups started to gather around the SM property when workers began what seemed to them as clearing the premises.
Clarence Baguilat, DENR-CAR regional director, said technical staff with experience in earthballing were monitoring the activities of SM to ensure compliance with environment compliance certificate issued to the management.
SM management has issued a statement reaffirming its “expansion and redevelopment project to better serve its customers as the first mall in the North region designed to be certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the internationally recognized standard for green building design and construction developed by the US Green Building Council.”
It said consultations with authorities and “environmental experts have preceded the earthballing of trees” to ensure high survival rates for the transplants.
“Aside from this, SM will be planting over 50,000 trees as part of its commitment to Baguio’s re-greening program.”
The project is a total environment friendly endeavor that goes beyond the trees, some of which are alnus and not pine trees, which will be relocated within the mall, the company said.
“SM has also planted 6,000 pine saplings. Another 20,000 are scheduled to be planted within the year at designated watersheds and another 30,000 trees in the next three years not only within Baguio but as far as Sto. Tomas and Mt. Pulag.”
The expanded and renovated SM City Baguio will be a seven level open air retail, dining, and entertainment destination that will rely almost exclusively on natural ventilation for the mall’s generous public spaces. With AP
(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on /2012/April/11)