SC stops SM Baguio from cutting down more trees

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 10 2019 07:11 PM | Updated as of Apr 10 2019 07:15 PM

The Supreme Court has made permanent a temporary restraining order (TRO) it previously issued preventing SM from cutting down more trees here, SC spokersperson Brian Keith Hosaka said on Wednesday. File/George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

BAGUIO CITY—The Supreme Court has made permanent a temporary restraining order (TRO) it previously issued preventing SM from cutting down more trees here, SC spokersperson Brian Keith Hosaka said on Wednesday.

The mall giant had hoped to expand its operations in Luneta Hill, but a TRO issued by the high court on March 24, 2015, prohibited it from taking down and balling trees.

The TRO was issued in connection with the petition filed by the Cordillera Global Network represented by its president, Gloria Abaeo. Ramon Paje, the environment and natural resources secretary at the time, was named as respondent.

But despite the TRO, the Supreme Court said SM may still file “another application for an environmental compliance certificate in accordance with existing laws and regulations.”

SM Baguio’s planned expansion sparked uproar in 2012, as it would uproot 182 alnus and pine trees to make way for a 7-storey parking building.

Environment advocates had secured a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) from the Court of Appeals in April 2012 but this was lifted on December 2014.

In January 2015, SM cut down 60 trees, prompting environment advocates to take the case to the Supreme Court.

In a statement sent to ABS-CBN News Wednesday, SM Prime Holdings legal counsel Ryan San Juan said they “have not received any resolution on this matter from the Supreme Court.”