MANILA, Philippines – The discussion surrounding the uprooting of trees at Baguio City’s Luneta Hill is spreading fast online, with a majority of netizens criticizing the act.
The removal of the trees was done by mall developer SM, part of its plan to expand its SM City Baguio property. The trees were removed to make way for a parking area and an entertainment center.
SM uprooted the trees from Luneta Hill via the process of earth-balling on Monday evening, April 9, according to Baguio residents online. As of 1 am Tuesday, April 10, more than 7 trees had been removed.
This prompted protesters, mainly environment advocates and city residents, to seek temporary relief from a Baguio court.
Later in the day, Judge Cleto Villacorta of the Baguio City Regional Trial Court issued a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) stopping the activity. The motion was filed by the National Union of People’s Lawyers.
In an interview with Rappler, lead counsel Cheryl Daytec Yangot revealed that the order will be served Tuesday afternoon, April 10, and will take effect for only 72 hours.
In response, SM said it has begun to replant the trees, which will be done alongside planting of 50,000 new trees to support the city’s “re-greening.”
“SM reiterates its concern for the environment and that the building expansion shall be sustaining the environment, not only the trees, but the other environment aspects such as air quality and energy efficiency,” SM said.
Since January this year, Baguio residents have been complaining against the decision of SM Development Corp to remove 182 trees from the said hill, as part of its expansion plan.
The earth-balling, SM said, will help preserve the trees, but experts said this would still be harmful to the city in the long run.
Online, Rappler asked its followers and other netizens about their reactions to the issue.
Netizens have also voiced opinions on several online groups including the public Facebook Group Boycott SM.
Meanwhile on the Facebook Page Tangina This! users have begun a new meme, playing on the SM slogan, “we’ve got it all for you,” changing it to “we cut it all for you!” using a scene from The Lord of the Rings.