Environment group to halt mall expansion in Baguio City

ENVIRONMENTALISTS are bent on filing a case against SM Prime Holdings Inc. in a bid to stop the expansion project in Luneta Hill, Baguio City.

Lawyer Christopher Donaal said a case will be filed against SM arguing expansion plans as part of original plans of the mall which created the uproar years ago over the 182 trees.

“We will file a case, we are preparing for it now,” Donaal said.

Donaal with the same group of lawyers have met and are one in the resolution to fight to halt plans of the SM to expand as well as to protect the remaining tree covers in the area.

A decision by the Supreme Court on April 19, 2016 and distributed by SM last month attached to their press release on the mall expansion states the Court in an En banc decision gave the green light for the expansion project excluded it in the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court last year.

Donaal and the legal team answered the April SC decision, steadfast in arguing the expansion should remain part of the TRO.

The trees which the environmental groups initially fought for are still included in the TRO. However the mall expansion project is not included.

In the heat of the battle, The Save 182 Movement was formed by environmentalists in the city together with the Cordillera Green Network which fought against the earth balling and cutting of trees within SM 1,500-square meter expansion site.

In 2012, thousands joined the campaign to save the tree after the mall got a permit to earth-ball the trees for replanting. The courts issued a temporary environmental restraining order against the transplanting of trees a day later, but the order was lifted on December 3 of the same year.

In 2014, seventy two trees were earth balled within the expansion area and in 2015, the Supreme Court issued an order to stop the earth balling.

In a press release by SM City Baguio it detailed the mall has secured the final approval and necessary permits from pertinent government agencies as well as inputs from different meaningful advocacy and community groups were gathered and considered to put the project together.

u201cWork began after the Supreme Court clarified that the expansion plan was excluded from the TRO they earlier issued in a resolution dated April 19, 2016,” the press release adds.


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