Baguio tree huggers get restraint from court

By Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Apr 10 2012 01:17 PM | Updated as of Apr 10 2012 10:59 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Concerned citizens of Baguio City got a 72-hour temporary environmental protection order to stop SM Group from cutting down some 182 trees for a mall expansion there.

Baguio resident and “Save 182” convener Karlo Marko Altomonte told ABS-CBNnews.com they received the restraining order only this morning. He said unconfirmed reports show that less than 10 trees have already been felled since workers trooped to the area early Tuesday morning.

He said the petitioners will file a motion to make the protective order permanent.

He said some groups have come to barricade the area but will already be dispersed once the court sheriff serves the order.

He said they filed the petition in February. It was a different branch that took jurisdiction over the case. The judge in that branch decided to hear first the comments of the stakeholders.

Acting on an urgent motion and since the judge of that branch was absent today, a different judge issued the protective order, he explained.

Some netizens reported that they heard the chopping of trees early on Tuesday.

Based on the Facebook page “Boycott SM everywhere,” more than seven trees have already been felled and backhoes have started to roll in.

In his Facebook account, Altomonte said: “Just came back from Luneta Hill. For months SM City Baguio insisted that what they're doing is right, that it's for the good of the city... then why are they doing this behind walls erected overnight, they even also blocked the view from inside the mall, and in the middle of the night?!?”

They have also started an online petition seeking to declare the Sys as “personas non gratas of Baguio City” for “disregarding the welfare of the community and the environment all in the name of crass commercialism and heartless capitalism with the expansion plan of SM City Baguio that will result in the potential death of 182 trees on Luneta Hill!”

SM Group will come out with a statement today.