It Takes More than 182 to Save The 182

10:42 PM

Seemingly mum through my social networking accounts, I have been actually reading through the news articles related to the current environmental massacre in the Philippines. Yes, I will be talking about the 182 trees suffering from the corporate greed of SM Investments Corporation (SMIC) and respective government agencies.

The issue has been under fire since October of last year when the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) granted an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to SMIC. This permit was needed in order for the mall to continue its so-called expansion and development. It is understood that the city would benefit greatly from the infrastructure development. However, the expansion involves wiping out 182 pine trees occupying the area. Also, the permit should only be granted after an approval from the public consultation. Obviously, this did not happen.

When the local government approved the expansion proposal, people staged a protest on January 20th. More than 3,000 people of different ages, affiliations and backgrounds marched along Session Road to express their opposition. It was amazing how so many people actually have that concern for the city and the pine trees. It was the biggest protest in Baguio City, and I was privileged to be part of it as a student-journalist. (Check out the online version of my article that made front page of a community newspaper.)

A legal conference with the city council only happened late February/early March - many weeks after the January protest. Though environment experts have explained the harm that even earth-balling can do, everything fell on deaf ears. (The initial plan was to CUT the trees, but SMIC revoked their earlier statement and stated that they EARTH-BALL them insted.) It was obvious what these officials, who were born and raised in Baguio City, really care about.

Efforts have continued until I left Baguio. However, it was heartbreaking to read that 8 trees have already fallen victims. It happened late at night last Monday, April 9, when SM was still under a Temporary Environment Protection Order (TEPO). People described it as a "massacre" as witnesses describes the site with "ski-masked workers resting from the massacre, trucks parked outside SM big enough to transport tree trunks".This was just not a violation - it was an act of DISRESPECT against the people, the court and the environment.

I love Baguio as much as I love hometown Manila. I used to pass by SM because it is just right beside my school.  And I do know those pine trees. They are one of the most magnificent things God has ever created. You can't find any of them here in Manila! But why oh why can people hurt their OWN environment?

SM says that the mall expansion is for development. What is there to develop when Baguio City is already rich in culture and resources? There is no need for fancy dining areas, parking spaces and bus terminals. Why not improve Governor Pack Road itself (this is where most of the bus terminals are located)? Why not also renovate the buildings along Session Road? Session Road has more dining options (and they're way better) than what SM can offer.

Whether you're in Manila, in Baguio or in any part of the globe, we all live in one Earth. MAKE SOME NOISE AND SHOW THAT YOU CARE. HELP SAVE THE 182 TREES IN BAGUIO CITY.



2 comments

  1. Excellent call. Those men cutting down the trees, no matter how despicable people make them to be, are just trying to make a living. At the end of the day we can only be mad at the core of the problem. Oh these business ventures, things they'd do for an extra buck :/

    I think our pleas are falling on deaf ears, as if the SMDC dispute at the Ateneo / Xavier area has not taught them that their money making ways is probing their target market to strip them off their "The good guys" slogan (myself included). Its never a hopeless case for as long as there are still people, like you, who make an effort to bring light on topic.

    I am glad to see you back on blogger, Cheska. Keep blogging

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  2. It is kind of sad to think that these workers are only working because they are told to do so. I will give the benefit of the doubt that some of them might actually care.

    It's really sad how money can make people - workers and high officials alike - so deaf and blind. And again, they are the ones who are born and raised there.

    Thank you Marz for the comment. I truly appreciate when I receive feedback like this. It's kind of hard to take some action, but at least to inform the people is what I can do. :)

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