Court ruling on mall expansion awaited-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Sunday, October 7, 2012
IT WILL just be a matter of weeks before Regional Trial Court Branch 5 Judge Antonio Esteves rules on the environmental case filed by the Cordillera Global Network against the mall expansion of SM City Baguio.
City Planning and Development Officer Evelyn Cayat, the last witness for the defense, testified Friday that SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI) submitted all requirements needed for the granting of the zoning clearance for the mall expansion project.
Cayat said the area where the proposed mall expansion project will be constructed is a C1 area, which includes all other buildings in the Central Business District.
She said mall authorities were able to submit needed requirements for a zoning clearance, adding the mall remains compliant with the required height limit for building in the C1 area being a four-storey mall expansion building.
Prosecution lawyer Cristopher Donaal no longer cross examined Cayat as the zoning officer also testified as a witness for the petitioners.
Petitioners led by the Project Save 182 remained steadfast in their campaign against what they call as “corporate greed” and their foremost aim of saving the pine and alnus trees to be affected by the mall expansion.
SMPHI lawyer Vladimir Uy said it is no longer possible, based on court rulings, for the prosecution to impeach statements made by Cayat who was a hostile witness for the petitioners.
Uy said they remain hopeful the court will give a favorable decision to SMPHI after they have presented all the evidence to prove the retail giant complied with all requirements and sought all permits before pushing for the expansion.
“Once the formal offer and comment is submitted to the court, the presiding judge will issue and order requiring the parties involved in the case to issue their corresponding memoranda,” he said.
Esteves gave 10 days for the defense to submit its formal offer of evidence to the court, while the prosecution is also given 10 days to respond to these pieces of evidence presented.
No adjustment of dates will be given to both parties as Esteves stressed the court will immediately give its ruling on the case.
Uy said they will only have to show the documentary evidence identified by witnesses in the court and collate them based on the number of days given by the court.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 08, 2012.