GET REAL POST
We beg to differ.


So I heard there was a 125-strong flash mob assembled at six locations to “occupy” SM Megamall last week. There could be more organized protests to come in the following days until the whole issue fizzles out and goes back into the Filipino people’s unconsciousness. I noticed that not only is rallying in vogue in the country with “coño” kids said to be joining in, they also annoyingly refer to their activity as “occupy” this and that. As most people know, the term was first coined by international protesters — calling themselves the “Occupy Movement” to protest social and economic inequality. You can count on Filipinos to not only use borrowed concepts from western societies but also to wear it out ’til it comes across like a tattered shirt that has lost its luster. The occupy movement in the Philippines particularly the one directed at SM management is certainly one that is lost in translation.

The protesters who rally in SM malls were expressing their objection against SM mall management’s plans to cut 182 or so trees in its branch in Baguio City — a city that is also known as the City of Pines. But wait a minute…doesn’t SM actually own the property where the Pine trees are located? Technically, they can do whatever they want with the land and the trees within the bounds of the law. So therefore, even if environmentalists have successfully secured a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) from the court to stop the cutting, uprooting or earth-balling of the pine trees, protesters are actually too late in expressing their indignation over SM’s plans.

Apart from being late in their so-called Occupy Movement, the protesters are holding their illegal assembly in the wrong place. They should be occupying the Baguio City municipal hall because it was the city government who sold the land to the mall chain in the first place. To say that it is only SM management who is at fault is wrong. As a corporation, SM is just doing what is in their nature to do, which is to expand and focus on their bottom line. We can’t expect much from corporations much less expect them to care about what ordinary folks think. But we should expect a lot from our government. What was the Baguio City government thinking when they sold the land to SM? They sure weren’t thinking about the impact of the sale to the environment and its people.

Baguio city Mayor Mauricio Domogan should not be off the hook on this one. It’s not like the mayor hasn’t seen or been to any SM mall. He therefore has an idea of the kind of structures the retail giant have on most of their properties. Did he inform the people of his plans to sell the property to the retail giant by way of public notice? Did he ask SM management for a blue print of their construction plans including what they will be doing to the land currently occupied by the pine trees? Moreover, did the Mayor give out a copy of these plans to the citizens of Baguio city for review? Failing all that, the citizens of Baguio and all the genuine and pseudo-environmentalists should be cross at the government agencies involved in granting approval for this project not SM.

In a news report, Mayor Domogan even said, “the development plan of the retail giant was approved by the City Government as no less than President Benigno Aquino III signed the deed of sale of the Luneta Hill property.” This fiasco, it seems, goes all the way to the top. In the same news item, the mayor claimed that it was the “Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) who granted permission to SM Baguio to cut 172 trees in the mall’s property facing Governor Pack Road”. In his defense, DENR Regional Executive Director Clarence Baguilat justified their decision by saying that there was “no violation of Executive Order 23 as the 139 pine trees in the mall property are planted trees within a private property excluded from the log ban.” Ayun naman pala. I wonder if the protesters are even aware of this information. If they were, they would not be “occupying” the malls at all.

You could disagree with DENR’s statement and say that SM is violating the log ban but you cannot deny that they are doing it in their own property. And whatever they are doing, they have secured permission from the government to do so. Yes, the selling of the land to SM for their mall was already ill-conceived to begin with; but denying their plans for parking provisions would be irresponsible at best and could become the city’s second mistake at worst.

If the mall management is not allowed to construct their parking lot, where do these protesters expect the mall shoppers to park their vehicles when they go to the mall? Surely without any additional parking, the traffic on the ill-planned Governor Park Road would be even more chaotic. The uprooting of the pine trees is said to make way for the mall’s expansion, which will include a centralized parking and bus terminal in the area. And since the mall is already there, what they plan to do with the land after the trees have been removed can only solve the potential traffic problem shopping centers cause in the long run.

What I am trying to say is this: since no less than a massive earthquake can destroy the government approved mall, the people might as well allow the SM management to proceed in completing their plan to build a structure for the private and public vehicles to be used by people who will patronize the said mall. After all, this is not the first mall SM has constructed. They know and can foresee the traffic problems their buildings can cause. They are simply addressing trouble the influx of people who will patronize their mall can cause in the future. This is how confident they are that, after the dust has settled, the people of Baguio would come in droves for the mall’s first three-day SM sale.

In crying foul of what SM is doing, the protesters merely make themselves look even more ignorant of what the people around the country should have done. It’s not like SM is the cause of the environmental disaster that is just waiting to happen in Baguio City and other parts of the country. In fact, SM management will not construct in an area without consulting experts if the land is conducive to their plans. And the college students who have screen-printed coordinated shirts for the photo ops have no idea that SM management operate with very few stones left unturned. Meaning, a retail giant such as SM would have covered all their bases even before they broke ground. Their statement below explains their stand:

The project is designed to receive a LEED Gold Rating, which requires the implementation and documentation of achievement of a minimum of 60 of the listed points, which will be subject to the review and approval of the Green Building Rating,” the retail giant said in a statement.”

LEED is the international standard for green building design and construction developed by the US Green Building Council. The earth balling of trees to make way for the mall’s expansion is also done in “close consultations” with the DENR and “other environmental experts,” said SM.

Pardon the pun but SM management is not the root of the problem here. Rather, it is the government and their lack of coordination or consultation with the people that is. As usual, the protesters are barking up the wrong tree and are decades too late to protect Baguio City.

Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

More Posts - Twitter

73 Comments

  • 17Sphynx17 says:

    Well, the current rules for the DENR or the Philippines do not allow cutting of any tree 30cm or 12″ in caliper diameter or more. This applies to private and/or public land. But be that as it may, they are not really cutting as far as I know, but rather earthballing and following protocol.

    I find these protests against SM are misdirected at best because they want to blame someone else for the cause of the problem and not themselves. If these pine trees maybe one of the few areas remaining in Baguio’s City center then it just goes to show how callous the city government was over the years.

    Also, obtaining a LEED certification is not easy nor can you fool them into having a design only without implementation.

    The only way they could find a loophole around it is if:
    1) they have ground to revoke the sale of the land to SM
    2) establish the area as forest land (unless it was rezoned already prior to sale) so the government basically was only able to sell stewardship rights and not complete ownership of the land

    Anyway SM is simply an entity they wish to demonize for the sake of feeling good about themselves. That’s how I see it. I am not a fan of SM but I know that SM did its part to reach this far in their construction. They are basically stepping on SM’s rights now which I think is wrong.

    • Ilda says:

      @17Sphynx17

      Exactly. Where was the indignation when the first few pine trees were cut down for commercial use years ago? Why did they have to wait until there were only a few pine trees left before saying something?

      Of course I feel sorry that these trees are being removed but they are making it appear like SM is responsible for cutting down all the trees in Baguio City.

      And why aren’t they even calling on the Baguio City government for the latter’s shortfall? This should actually move our lawmakers to craft a law that would make it illegal to sell properties to developers without public consultation.

      • HOvercraft says:

        I agree that our lawmakers should craft a law that would make it illegal to sell properties to developers without public consultation. And for sure, when the first trees were being cut, the indignation was there in a few people, but the environmental problem wasn’t as bad as it is now. Also, a behemoth like SM would surely attract attention, while the little mice saw on the house’s foundation. The things is, the cutting of a tree is being seen as an absolute evil–so it doesn’t matter whether someone cut a few and someone else cut more than that,and so tree cutting or earthballing or whatnot, should not be undertaken unless the trees themselves pose a serious threat to the welfare of the community. Doesn’t that kind of standard appeal to anyone out there?

        • Ilda says:

          @HOvercraft

          And for sure, when the first trees were being cut, the indignation was there in a few people, but the environmental problem wasn’t as bad as it is now.

          Cutting down one tree is the same as cutting down 182 or more trees for me. The people should have been indignant then as they are now but towards the right people. Why did the people wait until the situation has gone from bad to worse before objecting? Why didn’t they demand more from their local government?

          Also, a behemoth like SM would surely attract attention, while the little mice saw on the house’s foundation.

          Like what I said in my article: SM management is not the root of the problem here. Rather, it is the government and their lack of coordination or consultation with the people that is. As usual, the protesters are barking up the wrong tree and are decades too late to protect Baguio City.

    • HOvercraft says:

      Why should any legal property owner be able to do what he wants to do with things on his property if his actions will harm the community in some way? What is absolute right of ownership? What should it entail? When the law is late, what is the public redress?

      • Joe America says:

        Why should people be allowed to throw trash out the bus window or blast music like torture throughout the night or drive motorcycles without helmets through packs of roaming, flea-bitten mangy dogs or piss on the grocery store wall?

      • Ilda says:

        @HOvercraft

        You are not asking the right questions.

        Why did the government sell the land to a mall developer in the fist place? Did the Baguio City government think that SM will turn the land into a nature reserve and keep the plants and trees? Why didn’t they consult the people before selling the land to SM?

        • Richard says:

          That is basically why the protesters are against the expansion–there was no public consultation. Another thing, it is grossly ignorant of you to say that the property was sold by local government. It was bid out by the national government in 1992 (Aquino’s term) and the final Deed of Sale was approved by another Aquino. While we appreciate your deviation, we also need you to research well before coming up with articles like this which expose your ignorance. One more thing, the trees which were cut/earthballed formerly stood in one of the remaining forest covers in the central business district. Planting trees elsewhere can never replace the oxygen production and carbon reduction those trees provide for people in the central business district, especially around Session Road and surrounding areas. Also, there will be repercussions of possible flooding and landslides should the project reach fruition. Maybe you haven’t seen, but Gov. Pack Road is starting to sink and the park at the side of University of the Cordilleras is eroding. (They are building a sort of retaining wall or structure to prevent further damage.) Imagine what a humongous mall expansion can do. I then prod you to research more on the expansion plan and how it will eradicate half of Luneta Hill and will affect the surrounding areas. Projects of this magnitude should really be in the first place consulted with the public. A UP Baguio survey shows that 9 of 10 residents in Baguio are against the mall expansion. Obviously, you can only appreciate this statistics if you have dipped in the highland culture of Baguio and know why highlanders have a history of standing against occupation and oppression by elements from other countries or lowlands.

        • Ilda says:

          Please read the article again especially the following:

          In a news report, Mayor Domogan even said, “the development plan of the retail giant was approved by the City Government as no less than President Benigno Aquino III signed the deed of sale of the Luneta Hill property.” This fiasco, it seems, goes all the way to the top. In the same news item, the mayor claimed that it was the “Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) who granted permission to SM Baguio to cut 172 trees in the mall’s property facing Governor Pack Road”. In his defense, DENR Regional Executive Director Clarence Baguilat justified their decision by saying that there was “no violation of Executive Order 23 as the 139 pine trees in the mall property are planted trees within a private property excluded from the log ban.” Ayun naman pala. I wonder if the protesters are even aware of this information. If they were, they would not be “occupying” the malls at all.”

          and this:

          You could disagree with DENR’s statement and say that SM is violating the log ban but you cannot deny that they are doing it in their own property. And whatever they are doing, they have secured permission from the government to do so. Yes, the selling of the land to SM for their mall was already ill-conceived to begin with; but denying their plans for parking provisions would be irresponsible at best and could become the city’s second mistake at worst.

          Please click on this link for further information: Article for people who say I am ignorant

          One more thing, the trees which were cut/earthballed formerly stood in one of the remaining forest covers in the central business district. Planting trees elsewhere can never replace the oxygen production and carbon reduction those trees provide for people in the central business district, especially around Session Road and surrounding areas.

          So why did DENR approve the development? Why did the people of Baguio wait until there was only “one remaining forest covers in the CBD” before making a noise?

          Projects of this magnitude should really be in the first place consulted with the public.

          That’s what I said here:

          Baguio city Mayor Mauricio Domogan should not be off the hook on this one. It’s not like the mayor hasn’t seen or been to any SM mall. He therefore has an idea of the kind of structures the retail giant have on most of their properties. Did he inform the people of his plans to sell the property to the retail giant by way of public notice? Did he ask SM management for a blue print of their construction plans including what they will be doing to the land currently occupied by the pine trees? Moreover, did the Mayor give out a copy of these plans to the citizens of Baguio city for review? Failing all that, the citizens of Baguio and all the genuine and pseudo-environmentalists should be cross at the government agencies involved in granting approval for this project not SM.

          and here:

          Pardon the pun but SM management is not the root of the problem here. Rather, it is the government and their lack of coordination or consultation with the people that is. As usual, the protesters are barking up the wrong tree and are decades too late to protect Baguio City.

        • Trosp says:

          @ Richard’

          According to you –

          “While we appreciate your deviation, we also need you to research well before coming up with articles like this which expose your ignorance. One more thing, the trees which were cut/earthballed formerly stood in one of the remaining forest covers in the central business district. Planting trees elsewhere can never replace the oxygen production and carbon reduction those trees provide for people in the central business district, especially around Session Road and surrounding areas. Also, there will be repercussions of possible flooding and landslides should the project reach fruition”

          May I ask if you have researched the above information?

          For example, what if I would ask for the benchmark of your claim that planting trees elsewhere can never replace the oxygen production and carbon reduction those trees provide for people in the central business district, especially around Session Road and surrounding areas.

          How much trees could would support the minimum oxygen level requirements that you are talking about?

          We are living in Metropolitan Manila and we all know that the Metropolis can be considered as denuded area.

          Or you can also direct us to where we can access the information of the will be repercussions of possible flooding and landslides should the project reach fruition.

          Right now, I hope you won’t violently react, it seems you are just telling a story. A tale.

          Or you just want to have your feeling good moment?

          I hope you’re not another drive-by and would comment again on this issue here in this post.

          Gawin mo lang fact-based that are verifiable, marami kang makakasundo dito.

          BTW, what ignorance have you exposed? Can you share that to us?

        • Richard says:

          @Ilda Your ignorance lies in telling that the Baguio City gov’t sold the property to SM. It is not the local gov’t that executed the sale thus, the “hugas-kamay” attitude of Mayor Domogan that the local government cannot do anything since it is a public property. As I mentioned, the property was bid out nationally/by the national government in 1992

          @Trosp Yes, I knew the information from Dr. Michael Bengwayan himself. He is the one who started the snowball of protests by through an online petition on January 8 asking for the revocation of permits issued to SM. I have read some of his articles on how the trees help in the CBD. You cannot simply replace the ability of 40+ year old full-grown trees by planting even 50,000 seedlings somewhere else. We are talking about the central business district here.

          1 tree provides the oxygen requirement of some 66 people per year.

          I’ll get back to you with the link. I have to search for it again. It’s in a wordpress site

          Also, you say you are from Metro Manila. Ang alam ko lang na bundok sa (Metro) Maynila ay bundok ng basura sa Smoky Mountain. Iba ang sitwasyon sa kapatagan kumpara rito sa bundok. Madaling magkalandslide dito sa Baguio lalo na pag malakas ang bagyo. Sa tingin mo, san pupunta ang water run-off ng Luneta Hill?

          Heto pa, alam mo ba gaano kalalim ang kailangan nilang hukayin para ipatayo ang 7-storey parking extension nila? San dadalhin lahat ng lupang iyon at paano kung magkaroon ng isang malakas na lindol at masira ang water reservoir na ipatatayo nila. 6M liters. Sa tingin mo san tatagas lahat ng yun pag nagkataon eh kulang na rin ang mga puno sa paligid para sumalo nito.

          Common sense lang ang kailangan para malaman na hindi talaga mabuting lagyan ng napakalaking istruktura ang ibabaw ng Luneta Hill. Mula sa karanasan namin nung lindol ng 1990, nagbagsakan ang mga gusaling katulad ng gusto nilang ipatayo. Ngayon, gusto mo rin bang may mga inosenteng mga buhay na madamay dahil sa kasakiman ng iilan?

          Hindi lang ito laban para sa mga puno. Laban din ito para sa buhay

          I’ll get back to you with the link in a later comment. Hindi po drawing ang mga sinasabi ko. Yung mga tanong mo ay naitanong din sa City Council hearing kung saan nagsalita ang mga eksperto sa urban planning. Nandun po ako sa mga session na iyon kaya alam ko po ang pinagsasasabi ko.

        • Ilda says:

          @Richard

          Hay naku, you are quibbling on details. Otherwise, you have no further objection to any of my points.

          Just because I didn’t mention that the transaction was initiated in 1992 doesn’t mean I am ignorant. The local government still knew about the deal but failed to inform the public.

        • Richard says:

          …I mean Domogan saying the government cannot do anything because it is private property.

        • Trosp says:

          Richard, if I’m not too imposing, I’m still waiting for the link.

          You still did not get the point of mentioning Metro Manila in my comment. A denuded place I might say but the lack of trees is not a health issue here.

          “1 tree provides the oxygen requirement of some 66 people per year.”

          Is that a mandatory requirement or just your thought?

          How about again a link.

          Since to me you’re scaring the comment readers here.

          I mean, those people who can’t argue their point sometimes resort to scare tactic. Very common to those global warming and environment advocates. That is how I interpret your argument.

        • Richard says:

          @ Trosp
          https://www.facebook.com/groups/Atreeaday/doc/301296886606799/

          https://www.facebook.com/groups/Atreeaday/doc/295963097140178/

          I was mistaken. It’s 6 people not 66

          Here are another note for more info.

          https://www.facebook.com/groups/Atreeaday/doc/298342850235536/

          These notes are all from Dr. Michael Bengwayan, the proponent of the online petition which started it all.

          Here is the online petition.

          http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/stop-the-cutting-uprooting-of-trees-at-sm-baguio.html

          You can verify Dr. Michael Bengwayan’s qualifications online if you want. You can also check his FB profile. He is an expert on pine trees.

          You may also think that the lack of trees is not a health issue. However, we need to turn to statistics of those who die due to lung and respiratory disease due to environmental factors. I do not have the numbers but I will research and hopefully will be able to find out studies on this. There are many externalities, however, such as lifestyle of people,genetic predisposition and the like.

          But I would surmise that people who live in a forested area and have similar lifestyle and genetic predisposition as those that live in a concrete jungle tend to live a longer life.

        • Richard says:

          @Ilda the group has convened in a general assembly today. In accordance the point you raised, there is a motion to hold a mass action at City Hall. Also, the movement may be primarily focused on saving the trees as of the moment but this also trickles down to good governance and holding people especially those in office accountable. Elections are slated next year and it will be another rallying point to put in office people who are pro-environment. This is one angle which we’ll prepare for. But while we prepare, we still focus on saving the trees first and then use our energy on other issues next. We are up against giants here so it would be better and more efficient to take things one at a time. We cannot spread ourselves too wide and too thin. Hope you can come up to Baguio, know the people in the movement and see for yourself how this is a collective and communal effort with committees and not just one leader that can be pinpointed.

        • Ilda says:

          That is good to know.

          You should also consider the points raised by MidwayHaven. He is from Baguio after all:

          The protesters are notoriously silent and hypocritical about their “allies for the cause.” For example, Goshenland (a local developer) was accepted on their side; perhaps to keep their movement “credible,” the protesters are silent about the fact that Goshenland is responsible for cutting thousands upon thousand of pine trees around the Baguio area for their residential developments.

          The protesters would counteract by saying, “let’s not distract ourselves with these other things and just focus on SM’s trees, which are the much bigger issues.” If there’s a bigger show of eco-hypocrisy than this, especially by so-called “environmentalists,” then I haven’t seen it yet.

          People like Carlos Celdran for example, only see SM as the culprit. What about the other developers who started it all? Maybe the protesters can include them in the placards during their “occupy” activities.

        • Trosp says:

          My apology if I have to. I did not bother to access the link (facebook) you’ve provided. I’m sure it’s all advocacy and not a factual one.

          Try something that is factual – those with numbers is a good start.

          This Dr. Michael Bengwayan is expert on pine tree?

          Don’t you know those global warming advocates who are referring themselves as scientists?
          Maybe yes, but definitely, they’re not climatologist.

          Get the drift?

        • Richard says:

          @Trosp

          Don’t try too hard to be a smart ass. You wouldn’t accept evidence presented anyway. I don’t need to convince or impress you. I know where I stand and I refuse to waste anymore time trying to show you how truthful I am with regard to my claim. I rest my case.

        • Trosp says:

          @Edward

          I really expected that you can’t accept the challenge of proving your case. From the start, it’s a defense rest my case situation.

          All you have done is telling us your story. Your tale. A fable.

          To nitpick, the one I like most:

          “1 tree provides the oxygen requirement of some 6 people per year”

          What about the coverage?

          1 tree in the Philippines can provide the requirement of the whole world if they’re 66 people only?

          You want us to believe a certain doctor who is expert in pine tree about the issue on environment?

          You want us to fact-check your argument in Facebook posts?

          Dumbass.

          It’s a compliment. You deserve something that fits your argument.

          You have your feeling good moment and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

        • Richard says:

          @Trosp

          Yeah. I really enjoyed it. It’s exhilarating–like a breath of fresh air. Wooh! That feels really, really good. Wink. Wink.

        • Trosp says:

          @Richard

          See what I mean. Something to boost your confidence.

        • Richard says:

          @Trosp

          Yeah. I’m low on self-esteem. I need a lot of feel good moments.Wink.Wink

    • Dale says:

      …the current rules for the DENR or the Philippines do not allow cutting of any tree 30cm or 12″ in caliper diameter or more… does this mean that if i bought land and wanted to build a house… i couldnt do that if the trees that are in the way have more than a 12″ diameter? damn that im building my house…i remember that tree in the middle of the road in magsaysay…DENR said you cant cut it so the builders just built the road with the tree in the middle… what an uncoordinated government we have…

      • 17Sphynx17 says:

        @Dale

        If you would plan to cut the tree, you would need first to consult with the DENR. Should they allow cutting of said tree, a compensation through planting of a number of seedling would be done by you to address the “Replacement” so to speak.

        In the case of SM though, it was eartballing or relocation of trees, which does not require paying for the substitute trees to be planted. This is actually a more costlier option compared to the seedling option.

        And to also answer your main question, yes. You can’t just cut the tree without permission. Legally that is.

  • alconce says:

    Maybe this group you call “flash mob” can direct their efforts to illegal loggers and their political and military coddlers all over the country. Or for a start, how about those illegal fishpens in Laguna de Bay or the ones in Taal Lake. They can bring their shrill and loud voices in front of the senate or batasan.

    • Ilda says:

      The sale of the property to the mall developer is a done deal. The protesters should direct their complaints to the right people now, which includes the government agencies who allowed this to happen and to the lawmakers who can do something to avoid this from happening again.

  • shane says:

    Exactly! I mean, they are waging war against SM because SM is a huge corporation. But have they thought about other people or small companies who also cut down trees just to construct buildings or houses sa Baguio? How about the shanties sa bundok? Na instead of pine trees eh mga barong-barong ang makikita mo sa bundok? =/ At first against ako sa uprooting ng pine trees sa Baguio but when I read and digested the info found here (http://smsupermalls.com/smsupermalls/smbg/) na nabasa ko sa isang FB page, medyo naliwanagan ako…kase at least may plans naman pala ang SM na palitan ang mga puno na ittransfer. Minsan yung mga protest na ganito nakakasawa na rin kase eh. =(

    • Ilda says:

      I haven’t even read that one yet. Thanks for the link.

      Baguio City residents and Filipinos in general should demand more from their public servants. They should be informed or consulted about new developments in their city especially the ones that would have an impact on the environment and people’s way of life.

      • 17Sphynx17 says:

        Actually barangay level consultation and voting should have come in as part of ECC application that would be later compiled and submitted to the DENR.

        The ECC would then be used as part of submission for the building permit to show that everything is in order, including its environmental impact.

    • Trorp says:

      @shane

      What you’ve commented is a basic example of critical thinking. Comprehend and analyze all the given information first before taking a stand.

      Don’t be carried away by sheer peer pressure.

  • Bien says:

    ok na din yang may matinding protest. hirap kasi dito sa bansa natin, the government often makes “midnight deals”, and the people find out about it, only when it’s too late. making SM’s life hell about this, cost them money, and would think twice next time, before going into such deals. walang politikong tatangap ng lagay kung walang nag offer. walang tatanggap kung walang maglalagay. it’s a circle of life here, which should be broken once and for all.

    • Ilda says:

      @Bien

      the government often makes “midnight deals”, and the people find out about it, only when it’s too late.

      You have to wonder why the people tolerate this kind of behavior though. The same public servants keep getting voted into office. Isn’t it time the people share the blame in turning a blind eye to the public servant’s shenanigans by demanding more transparency with these kinds of transactions?

  • Hyden Toro says:

    Corporate Greed is worldwide…all these corporations are looking is profit. Noynoy Aquino is part of these greedy corporation. He may even be a silent business partner with them. These people do not care about the welfare of other people. These people have power and money, to degrade the environment, and do what they want.

  • HOvercraft says:

    Ilda’s article “PNoy Government Approved the Uprooting of Pine trees in Baguio City” and subsequent say the protesters are ignorant and misinformed, and that the Baguio people shouldn’t blame SM who is within its legal rights–as if “legal” in a country proliferate with corruption means what it should mean ideally–but blame their public officials, instead, and to shut up and take it from SM. Brilliant! Isn’t this the way people have always reacted forever to issues that have come up in the past, and the reason nothing is ever done about anything in the country? Blame Aquino, blame city hall, blame anyone until your eyeballs pop except act to prevent the very thing everybody doesn’t want happening–the cutting or uprooting of those trees, now! The legal system seems to be all the country has to mediate conflicting interests–but the people are saying “the system doesn’t work for the community”, and SM’s ignoring the injunction by the local court sends the message that it has no respect for the law either, if it doesn’t work in SM’s favor. That the environmental disaster in Baguio is a result of many factors other than SM’s recent actions and proposed expansion is true enough, but you can’t expect most people to transform into an abstraction the tangible particularity that they face at the moment. If it’s in the nature of businesses like SM to do what they do, it is also in the nature of the people of Baguio to protest in ways that they see fit. It might not be the most organized nor the most effective way of doing things in a country whose legal system has been bought by money since time immemorial, but surely the ripple effect of the protest in terms of increased environmental consciousness and the value of citizen participation cannot be overestimated.

    • Ilda says:

      SM who is within its legal rights–as if “legal” in a country proliferate with corruption means what it should mean ideally–but blame their public officials, instead, and to shut up and take it from SM.

      Which part of the article did I say the protesters should “shut-up”?

      Please tell us what law SM violated.

      If you don’t trust the system, what do you think the people should do? Is it just SM who is at fault? What about the people who allowed this to happen in the first place?

      SM’s ignoring the injunction by the local court sends the message that it has no respect for the law either, if it doesn’t work in SM’s favor.

      I agree that SM seems to be ignoring the TEPO but even if they temporarily stopped the uprooting of the trees, in what way can the government compensate SM for the land they legally bought and which they cannot use? Is the government even willing to do that? It was only the protesters who filed for the TEPO, which is why I recommend that they also put pressure on the government. Otherwise, the people are fighting this on their own if the government is not on their side.

      How can the government address the traffic chaos on the road without the additional mall parking space and proper public vehicle stops?

      Are there other similar protests against any other corporations or individuals who are cutting down pine trees? Just because SM is big it doesn’t mean that other smaller parties who do the same thing should get away with what they are doing.

      • HOvercraft says:

        Ilda, seems to me you display an inability to understand what you read, unless you deliberately misinterpret what you read for some perverse end.

  • Trorp says:

    Langya, benign0, great post.

    Even though I comprehended your post as very objective, are those people who are rallying against the uprooting of pine trees flash mobs or occupiers?

    I would not hold my breath that they would be even labeled by others as Environment Liberation Front because of the way they express themselves.

  • brianitus says:

    At some point, those people involved should know when this battle is over. Once they’ve declared an end to the pine tree battle, maybe they will notice that the war against air pollution isn’t. Maybe that’s something worthy of working for in the long term. I haven’t been to Baguio in a long time. If air pollution worsens, am I going to need a gas mask for a vacation?

    Seriously, one thing I picked up from the SM plan that I think should be adopted by the city council — green roofs. I mean, if the trees aren’t there anymore, what’s PLAN B? For lack of a suggestion, the least they can do is come up with an incentive for buildings (other than SM) that can shift to green roofs.

    This also might be an excellent opportunity for Boysen paints to donate a huge chunk of their NoX paints (yung anti-pollution DAW). I just hope they don’t paint ugly pipes around the city if they decide to go with this suggestion.

    • Ilda says:

      Hi Brianitus

      Construction of buildings and houses in the future should include designs that harness energy from nature and use it for our benefit. The government should encourage people to do this by giving rebates. It will stimulate the economy and answer our energy crisis.

      • brianitus says:

        That initiative I would gladly support. I mean, at the rate commercial buildings are being put up in Metro Manila, what’s the energy plan for these structures?

        There was a poster last week who mentioned just that. I think it makes perfect sense to give incentives for people who take less from the grid.

    • MidwayHaven says:

      The protesters are notoriously silent and hypocritical about their “allies for the cause.” For example, Goshenland (a local developer) was accepted on their side; perhaps to keep their movement “credible,” the protesters are silent about the fact that Goshenland is responsible for cutting thousands upon thousand of pine trees around the Baguio area for their residential developments.

      The protesters would counteract by saying, “let’s not distract ourselves with these other things and just focus on SM’s trees, which are the much bigger issues.” If there’s a bigger show of eco-hypocrisy than this, especially by so-called “environmentalists,” then I haven’t seen it yet.

      • brianitus says:

        Oh, a lot like how a PNoy welcomes an Erap to side on the anti-corruption front. LOL. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

        Shouldn’t there be a moratorium on residential development, at least for environmental reasons? As I understand, water is hard to come by in Baguio. What’s the big plan to sustain the community?

  • Der Fuhrer says:

    My criticism is against the DENR. There is such a thing as agro-forestry. This is done in privately owned lands. My question is why do they prevent tree planters from harvesting hard wood trees? My point is planted saplings in private land cannot be harvested without a DENR permit for each tree. A hefty “price”(thousands of pesos per tree) is set to harvest trees. Is this not corruption? Is this not interfering in private land transactions? In the case of SM Baguio permits were granted to cut. How much was the total price?

    • Ilda says:

      I’m afraid ordinary folks are not privy to that kind of information. There is no such thing as transparency in the country even with PNoy around.

  • flexi says:

    ang mahirap saating pilipino ay marami tayong sinasabi sa kapwa natin.. at lagi yung hindi maganda… pag hindi gumagawa ng action eh sasabihin na walang silbi pagka naman gumawa ng action sasabihin nakikiuso lang.. may idea ba kayo kung sino sino ang sumama sa lightrally? hindi natin alam kung anu at sino sila.. hindi natin alam kung bakit sila ganun ka desidido sa advocacy nila. At isa pa wag sana tayo mag sulat at mag assume na akala natin eh walang alam ang mga tao.. ang iba dyan ay nananahimik lang pero marami silang saloobin. wag tayo manghusga sa kapwa natin kung hindi natin alam ang buong istorya.

    • ahehe says:

      Ayun po sa comment sa taas, yung mga protesters vs. SM eh no comment dun sa isa pang developer na madami ring pinutol na puno. Mga ipokrito nga kung totoo.

    • Ilda says:

      Please read the article again because it seems like you did not get the point. Here are some excerpts:

      They (protesters) should be occupying the Baguio City municipal hall because it was the city government who sold the land to the mall chain in the first place. To say that it is only SM management who is at fault is wrong. As a corporation, SM is just doing what is in their nature to do, which is to expand and focus on their bottom line. We can’t expect much from corporations much less expect them to care about what ordinary folks think. But we should expect a lot from our government. What was the Baguio City government thinking when they sold the land to SM? They sure weren’t thinking about the impact of the sale to the environment and its people.

      Baguio city Mayor Mauricio Domogan should not be off the hook on this one. It’s not like the mayor hasn’t seen or been to any SM mall. He therefore has an idea of the kind of structures the retail giant have on most of their properties. Did he inform the people of his plans to sell the property to the retail giant by way of public notice? Did he ask SM management for a blue print of their construction plans including what they will be doing to the land currently occupied by the pine trees? Moreover, did the Mayor give out a copy of these plans to the citizens of Baguio city for review? Failing all that, the citizens of Baguio and all the genuine and pseudo-environmentalists should be cross at the government agencies involved in granting approval for this project not SM.

      In a news report, Mayor Domogan even said, “the development plan of the retail giant was approved by the City Government as no less than President Benigno Aquino III signed the deed of sale of the Luneta Hill property.” This fiasco, it seems, goes all the way to the top. In the same news item, the mayor claimed that it was the “Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) who granted permission to SM Baguio to cut 172 trees in the mall’s property facing Governor Pack Road”. In his defense, DENR Regional Executive Director Clarence Baguilat justified their decision by saying that there was “no violation of Executive Order 23 as the 139 pine trees in the mall property are planted trees within a private property excluded from the log ban.” Ayun naman pala. I wonder if the protesters are even aware of this information. If they were, they would not be “occupying” the malls at all.

      You could disagree with DENR’s statement and say that SM is violating the log ban but you cannot deny that they are doing it in their own property. And whatever they are doing, they have secured permission from the government to do so. Yes, the selling of the land to SM for their mall was already ill-conceived to begin with; but denying their plans for parking provisions would be irresponsible at best and could become the city’s second mistake at worst.”

  • HOvercraft says:

    What really is your objection to people protesting whatever they want to protest however they want to protest if they perceive their welfare is being threatened in any way? Does it bring you joy to say that they are ignorant and misinformed? Is this blog of yours just an ego trip vehicle for your pseudo intellectualism? If you want to educate people whom you assume to be less learned than you, then write it in a manner that teaches and fosters understanding, and not to put them down if you think that their actions are guided more by instinct rather than their reason. I think the protesters have their hearts in the right place and their instinct correct. You, however can forever pretend to be objective and write in big and impressive words and spew hot air forever from your big and fecund whatever while the country rots from inaction.Enjoy the limelight and don’t forget to polish wherever your big loads of literal legalistic hot gases spew from. People like you will save the country, no doubt about it.

    • benign0 says:

      I’m looking for a point you might be making, but I fail to find it. Perhaps it is because all you do is comment on the nature of the words and style used in the article and not the substance or meaning of the message and as such also fail to add any insight of consequence to this discussion. :D

    • 17Sphynx17 says:

      @HOvercraft

      Well, you may be correct that people have a right to protest and not agree with certain actions/inactions. However, there is a time and place for these things.

      Aren’t protesters required to secure relevant permits first before staging a protest?

      Aren’t protesters required to organize a protest in a prescribed open area that does not hamper, intrude or invade on other peoples rights and liberties?

      As such the mentality of just having a right to protest is used too much when you fail to consider the people you interrupt, intrude, disturb, pester and/or defile.

      Can you define the act of earthballing? Is it cutting the tree? Is it killing the tree? Are there standards for earthballing? Is there a government contingent who can supervise/advice for the procedure and execution?

      So what then is wrong? Why are you then infringing on a private entity’s right over his private property wherein the entity does not appear to be violating any laws other than the protesters perceived violation by this entity?

      Do not claim under-the-table acts if you do not have any proof because it will just amount to hearsay.

      True, the pinetree is a symbol of what was once Baguio but this is the present reality and they are also not cutting the tree down which is the illegal act.

    • Ilda says:

      @HOvercraft

      What really is your objection to people protesting whatever they want to protest however they want to protest if they perceive their welfare is being threatened in any way?

      The answer to your question is in the article. You’re the one who is missing the point. Here’s an excerpt again:

      Apart from being late in their so-called Occupy Movement, the protesters are holding their illegal assembly in the wrong place. They should be occupying the Baguio City municipal hall because it was the city government who sold the land to the mall chain in the first place. To say that it is only SM management who is at fault is wrong. As a corporation, SM is just doing what is in their nature to do, which is to expand and focus on their bottom line. We can’t expect much from corporations much less expect them to care about what ordinary folks think. But we should expect a lot from our government. What was the Baguio City government thinking when they sold the land to SM? They sure weren’t thinking about the impact of the sale to the environment and its people.

      Please back up your claim when you say someone is just pretending to be objective. Which part of the article made you think that?

    • Dyed Moroz says:

      Translation: I’m an emo, butthurt, simple-minded, balat-sibuyas tree-hugger, whose indiscriminate anger should not be questioned.

      RTFA (read the f*cking article) again. Slowly, if need be.

  • nelson ongpauco says:

    ang baguio ay hindi na baguio na nakita ko nuong 1970 madumi na ang dami na ng tao mga bahay ,who care kung putulin ang pine tree .at lease may MALL na mapapahingahan pag mainit ang panahon ,maganda meeting place ng magkaibigan puwedeng pumik-up ng girls .dapat nuon pa ay hindi na pinayagan na magtayo ng mall dito pero walang ginawa ang mga tao .

  • Don says:

    Just to chuck in, being from Baguio:

    SM did not do sufficient soil-testing of Luneta Hill when it built their mall. The Hill is mostly red clay, and the SM structure is considerably heavier than the old Pines Hotel that used to stand there, and is starting to slide down. SM needs the expansion to put a bigger structure to arrest the slide. The problem is that it packaged the expansion really stupidly as a parking lot cum green building, at a time when Baguio folk have already had enough of pine trees getting knocked down left and right c/o DENR loosely issuing permits, and when the City Council and mayor are losing credibility from all the payola and ineptness being passed around. What made it really worse for SM was that the US Green Building Council which they claimed to be partnering with, declared in an e-mail that SM never consulted with them in the planning of their building.

    Also, the ownership of the Luneta Hill is in dispute, with several outstanding unresolved claims to the property. The old US-era title is still extant and was never cancelled in favor of SM; SM railroaded it’s “ownership” by building the mall before the ownership can be confirmed.

    Furthermore, SM’s contractors balled the wrong trees and in the worst manner possible that will guarantee their efforts would be brought to naught. They balled mature trees that were at least 30 years old, when balling is effective only for those less than 10 years old. And they balled the trees too close to the trunk at a radius of 1 meter, where balling requires digging at 1 meter from the farthest reach of the longest low-lying branch. They practically killed the trees, and yet insist it was “balling” for “replanting”.

    Finally, their promise of planting 50,000 trees to replace those cut down cannot be held to them after all is said and done. SM was already revealed to have honey-greased DENR, the Mayor, and the city council. And besides, where will they put those 50,000 pines? Not on their fake “green building”, to be sure.

    For too long, and to a fault, Baguio people have ignored what has happened to their city. Now though, they have figured that hey, we didn’t have SM before and we were still a tourist destination. Baguio folks were too trusting of their leaders, but their leadership took them for a ride for the longest time. They see SM as an imposition by a corrupt leadership, and the Luneta Hill trees are a late wake-up call.

    • Ilda says:

      Your comments are always informative, Mr. Don.

      I just hope more people from Baguio will realise where they got it wrong. I have not heard of any news report condemning the DENR, the Mayor or the government in general for this fiasco. It’s mostly SM being blamed.

      Thanks for your insights.

      • Don says:

        No prob. I was in the protest against the tree-cutting, but the movement got too emo to the point that they were ignoring the science. Lordsakes, now they want the ecologist who first raised the issue to now run for mayor, as if things weren’t so cockamamie already.

        For all its worth, an offshoot is that there is now a very big awareness on who NOT to vote on 2013; they actually named 6 members of the city council (those who endorsed the SM plan as favorable) on top of the mayor and congressman, and those they endorse to run on their platform. That at least shows they have some smart folks actually thinking.

        Why pick on SM? Simple: Because SM didn’t come across as sincere. All it needed to say was that it honestly needed a buttress to keep it from sliding down, so sorry, but we can fix it by doing this and this, so please allow us to cut trees. Instead, SM went into overkill PR mode and acted as if the locals were too stupid to not notice.

        Ayala was actually more honest in making their case, and they got away with cutting even more trees and building a Technohub in John Hay no less. Same for SLU’s annex in Bakakeng. So long as the folks see the need, they won’t mind the cutting of trees. SM preferred to blind-side the people, and got its costly delays as a result.

        • Ilda says:

          For all its worth, an offshoot is that there is now a very big awareness on who NOT to vote on 2013; they actually named 6 members of the city council (those who endorsed the SM plan as favorable) on top of the mayor and congressman, and those they endorse to run on their platform. That at least shows they have some smart folks actually thinking.

          It would be interesting to see if the people will heed the call not to vote for the same public servants. It remains to be seen.

          You are right about the movement going emo. I was not amused when I saw this popular personality going overboard on his twitter account ranting against SM without even mentioning the government’s role in this. He seems totally clueless.

  • FallenAngel says:

    Ilda, nice read, as always. Based on what Don wrote above, it looks like what you wrote about was just the tip of the iceberg.

    Does this mean, then, that infractions by small fry are overlooked by many Filipinos? Does this mean that they tend to notice only transgressions done by big business? Sounds like another manifestation of our heritage of smallness. Or it could simply mean that we as a people cherry pick whom we’d like the law to apply to.

    • Ilda says:

      Yes, indeed. Sadly, majority only notice things when they can’t do anything about it anymore.

      Thanks, FallenAngel.

    • Don says:

      The old-timers were whining that Quirino Hill was once covered with grass and pine trees, but they didn’t raise a holler when squatters smothered the hill. Instead, they allowed themselves to be overcome by pity for those interlopers. Really a stupid deal on the old-timers’ part; they should have razed the slums the first time around. Now the hills all over are covered with shacks and sickly designed structures. Too late the hero when the locals decided to go against /Jun Labo/Domogan/Vergara and their backers, they were too well supported by the people they hauled in to vote for them.

      Had the locals not been moved by pity for squatters the first time around, Baguio would still have its forest cover. Time to own up, Baguio people. Mayors De guia and Bueno were too slack in their day, even if they weren’t any corrupt. The best mayor we ever had was Halsema, rest his soul, and he wasn’t even Filipino.

  • Karlo Marko Altomonte says:

    Where were we? We were there, too… at Camp John Hay in 90’s, the first SM structure in the early 2000’s… we lost some, we won some. Maybe you didn’t know about it, that doesn’t mean we weren’t there. Thanks to SM’s own pr efforts, this issue got more attention than other protests against the continued rape of Baguio’s natural environment. True, it’s a private property, but under the law, one can get arrested for burning a pile of leaves in one’s own backyard, but SM can cause the death of 182 trees and it’s ok?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

149 queries in 0.659 seconds.