Reactions on the killing of pine trees in SM Baguio

“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” Ansel Adams

(2nd update) Three years ago, I wrote about the plan of SM Baguio to earth-ball pine trees but this is tantamount to killing them as well. In April 2012, a local court in Baguio City released today a 72-hour temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) stopping the management of SM Investments Corporation (SMIC) from uprooting almost 200 trees as part of the SM Baguio mall development program.

pine trees cut in baguio

Three years later, ‘Like a thief in the night,’ SM Baguio uproots pine trees. This Corporate giant “ is as greedy as they come and in one night cut 60 trees (according to them) even disregarding their earth-balling promise. But who would believe a lying corporation? Maybe there are more trees cut.”

But SM Baguio statement below shows that their actions were legal.

On December 2014, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Regional Trial Court’s dismissal of the environmental cases filed against SM and lifting of the Temporary Environmental Protection Order paving the way to do our Sky Park project in Baguio.

The project will also feature green facilities to help absorb the impact of climate change: a Sky Park, which feature green walls consisting of live plants that will help improve air quality, making the mall both relaxing and enjoyable for the whole family. It also consists of a sewerage treatment plant (STP), and an underground rainwater catchment tank in the basement. The excess space of catchment tank will provide additional parking space that will help decongest traffic along Upper Session Road.

SM mall in Baguio has secured the final approval and necessary permits for this project from the pertinent agencies. Prior to this, inputs from various community groups have been gathered and considered. The project affected 60 trees.

I am not sure if everything is legal in the first place. JP Fenix says Much ado about SM Baguio: Appeals Court affirms removal of pine trees legal and environmentally sound. Trees were uprooted and that is legal? Perhaps, but SM, along with its co-conspirators, violated the very spirit, the true intentions, of those laws. A comment in Facebook by Ivy Buenaobra had this to say:

SM has absolutely no regard for the sentiments of Baguio residents. They even promised us to earth ball the trees and redesign the mall expansion so that only 10 trees will be cut. LIARS. At around 1am, they started to cut and around 60 trees were gone the next morning. Their lawyers would say there is no legal impediment to SM’s actions but as always, the law is twisted for the benefit of the rich and powerful Henry Sy. They think that building a multi-level parking lot/mall extension will make the hill more attractive with a “sky garden” and fake plastic trees on top of the ugly structure. We Baguio residents call on everyone to support us, there are still 90 trees left out of the original 182, and we will take this case to the Supreme Court.

we can live without malls but we can't live without trees

Michael Bengwayan says “The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of SM. There is only one way we can get back. BOYCOTT SM EVERYWHERE!” He adds :

We will have a long battle but i dont’ care. Sa kanila ang mga korte, ang city government, ang DENR at iba pa, but i will go around the country telling people of their tree cutting and their greed….educating people on the importance of trees.. I will tell people to boycott SM..

Karlo Marko Almonte writes about the The Death of Pine Trees on Luneta Hill: A ConspiracyTheory

Our environmental laws are designed to be circumvented – that’s how SM City Baguio got away with murder.

And to SM? A while back, they sent their emissaries led by Vice President Bien Mateo to present what was supposedly a re-designed expansion plan. In that meeting, attended by some members of the protest movement including Atty. Chris Donaal, Ms. Glo Abaeo, Mr. Gideon Omero, Mr. Nelson Alabanza, myself, et al, they said that out of all the remaining trees on Luneta Hill, maybe only less than ten will be affected with this new plan. Last night, 60 trees were cut.

Here are just some of the reactions of netizens on the cutting / uprooting of the pine trees in SM Baguio.

Photo by Calypso Alala and Pine Tree Facebook page. Some rights reserved.

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado is a Content Strategist with over 11 years experience in blogging, content management, citizen advocacy and online media publishing and over 21 years in web development. Otherwise known as @MomBlogger on social media, she believes in making a difference in the lives of her children by advocating social change for social good.

She is a co-founder and a member of the editorial board of Blog Watch . She is a resource speaker on social media , blogging, digital citizenship, good governance, transparency, parenting, women’s rights and wellness, and cyber safety.

Her personal blogs such as aboutmyrecovery.com (parenting) , pinoyfoodblog.com (recipes), techiegadgets.com (gadgets) and beautyoverfifty.net (lifestyle) keep her busy outside of Blog Watch.

Disclosure:

She was a Senior Consultant for ALL media engagements for the PCOO-led Committee on Media Affairs & Strategic Communications (CMASC) under the ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council from January 4 -July 5, 2017. Having been an ASEAN advocate since 2011, she has written extensively about the benefits of the ASEAN community and as a region of opportunities on Blog Watch and aboutmyrecovery.com.

Organization affiliation includes Scrap Pork Network. I do not support or belong to any political party . Family friends with House Representative Pia Cayetano and Former Senator Alan P. Cayetano. I did not vote for any presidential candidate in the 2016 elections.

Updated July 30, 2017

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  • Eugenio Lopez

    This is the worst thing about the SM Group of companies. Unlike other developers like Ayala which really complements their architectural design of their buildings with nature, SM Group literally DESTROYS the surroundings for their SUBSTANDARD Buildings. Just look at SM Malls, SMDC and all other SM-Owned Companies, all of their establishments are causing “SPATIAL CHAOS”. One obvious testament to this is the SM Megamall. mantakin mong umabot na sa EDSA ung building nila. Kaya pag daan mo sa Ortigas, may BOTTLE-NECK ng Traffic kasi ung Mall nasa daan na.

    Grabe! Yes, they have permits. But obviously, they BRIBE the local officials to give them the permit. Parang ung SM Condo lang sa Katipunan, Herbert Bautista was given money by SM to allow the construction of the said condo, despite the opposition of the residents living there. These Chinese Businessmen are really RUINING our country. EVERSINCE. They are making money at the EXPENSE of the Filipino People’s welfare. And of course, they are conniving with CORRUPT governenment officials to allow them to do ILLEGAL Business that TAKES ADVANTAGE of Filipinos.

    Now you know why these Chinese Businessmen are getting rich in our very own soil. Come to think of it, yayaman ka ba ng ganyan kalaki sa bansang naghihirap ang mga tao? There’s only one way to get rich in a poor country, and that is to EXPLOIT the POOR more. Its only a matter of time before all the Local Businesses here will be owned by these greedy businessmen. even the government are selling their assets (i.e. Filipino People’s Assets) to these Chinese-Owned corporations. Worst of all, they don’t even care about the service they are providing the Filipinos.

    Oh right! Kasi nga naman, they don’t consider themselves Filipinos. They still think of themselves as CHINESE even if they already lived here in the country most of their life and made a living here. Their allegiance is still with their Ancestral Land which is China. Sa isip at puso nila, mga Intsik pa rin sila. Secondary lang ang pagiging Pilipino. Nagiging Pilipino lang ang mga Businemen na ito kapag magnenegosyo na sa bansa natin. Kapag kikita lang ng pera, dun lang sila magiging Pilipino kuno. Pero sa mga low points of our history, THEY ARE ASHAMED OF BEING ONE OF US. They are even EXPLOITING us is our “down” times. Just look at this news above. That is just one case. Palaging may ganyang klaseng news of exploittation, starting from the community level up to the national level, luging lugi si Juan dela cruz.

    Really sad! I’m hoping that the Filipino Chinese Youth will not follow the footsteps of their greedy ancerstors and will CONSIDER THEMSELVES REAL FILIPINOS, by heart. Pilipino sa ISPI at sa GAWA. Dont make being a Filipino JUST an OPTION.

    EMBRACE being a Filipino.