Felling of trees in SM Baguio sparks online wrath

By Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Apr 10 2012 11:58 AM | Updated as of Apr 12 2012 09:04 PM

72-hour TRO stops tree-cutting

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Several Baguio residents have taken to Facebook and Twitter to protest what they believe is SM Group’s initial move to cut down trees for a mall expansion.

Netizens said they heard the chopping of trees near SM Baguio 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, Baguio resident and “Save 182” convener Karlo Marko 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?!?”

He later told ABS-CBNnews.com they received a 72-hour restraining order stopping the SM Group from cutting down the trees. 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.

Some citizens, led by religious groups, will reportedly converge to call for a widespread boycott of the Sy-led chain of malls.

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 has yet to confirm the news.

Earlier, SM said it will carefully ball out trees for replanting within its property. It said it will also plant 50 saplings for every tree it will transfer, going beyond the city requirement of planting only 20 saplings for every tree balled out.

Over in Twitter, netizens have also lamented the incident:

@pananaghoy  - Photo: Imagine Baguio without Trees, SM Baguio will see to it. Thank you Henry Sy! https://t.co/bYjevNDC

@pananaghoy - People, let's make #SaveBaguioPineTrees trend. Make your disdain for SM Baguio felt. @superstarmarian @annecurtissmith @Tin_Rementilla

@JPAlipio - SM Baguio started cutting the trees in the middle of the night without any lighting to help them, if that's not evil being hidden what is?