Sting 'misinformed' on Baguio mall project - SM

MANILA, Philippines - Mall giant SM Prime Holdings defended its position to cut trees in its Baguio mall after the camp of rock icon Sting cited this in the decision to change his Manila concert venue to Araneta Coliseum from SM-led Mall of Asia Arena.

In a statement on Saturday, October 20, SMPH said it "regrets that there has been a lot of disinformation on its Baguio redevelopment plan, which apparently has reached Sting."

The company, which has the widest mall network in the country and led by the country's richest man Henry Sy Sr., asserted that the controversial transfer of trees at one of its 47 malls followed environmental standards and is now a case being heard in the court. 

"These trees will be relocated, not cut, within the same SM Baguio private property, using heavy equipment and a lot of man-power," the company wrote in the statement. 

It highlighted that the mall in Baguio is located in a slope and, to prevent landslides and erosion, it employed the globally acceptable practice of "rip-rapping."

"For the record, SM Baguio City plans to redevelop its facilities in order to address an urgent topsoil erosion problem covering its private property to protect the integrity of its Baguio mall," it said.

"In the process of the planned rip-rapping of the sloping area at the back of the mall, 182 trees will be scientifically earth-balled under close supervision by the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and UP Los Baños forestry experts. DENR mandated that for the greater possibility of the survival of trees, earth-balling must be done at night to avail of the great volume of moisture, compared to the hot condition during the day," it explained. 

A case is now pending before a Baguio court regarding the relocation of the trees. 

No more MOA

Sting has officially cancelled his Back to Bass Tour at the SM-Mall of Asia (SM MOA) Arena after fans raised concerns about SM's record moving trees in its Baguio City property.

The Philippine concert will push through but at the Araneta Coliseum, said his official website "There is no change to the show date, which remains Sunday, December 9th, 2012," said the site.

In a press release, SM MOA said that lawyer Cheryl Daytec-Yangot, with the Baguio-based environmentalist group Project Save 182, wrote to Sting's agents calling on them to change the venue.

"I wrote a letter to Sting’s agents appealing that they abandon SM-Mall of Asia Arena as the venue for the musician’s December concert. Sting, a voice of the oppressed, cannot sing in the halls of the oppressor," Daytec-Yangot wrote on her Facebook.

The group said removing the trees would significantly increase air pollution and the risk of landslides and flooding in an area near schools.

Sting has been recognized and supported by fans for his environmental activism. In 1989, he and his wife Trudie Styler founded the Rainforest Foundation to support indigenous people in efforts to protect their environment and the world's rainforest. -