BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan urged the management of SM City Baguio to strictly comply with the compensatory requirement prescribed by the environment department in the implementation of its mall expansion project to avoid criticisms from the local residents, especially the critics of their project.
The local chief executive said the recent ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) excluding the implementation of the mall expansion project from the coverage of the temporary restraining order that it issued on the cutting and balling of trees is a welcome development considering that there will be enhance business activities in the city.
“We are grateful that the High Court saw merit on the implementation of the down-sized mall expansion project because it upheld the right of the private owner of the property to introduce the desired development within its property to help boost the progress and development of the city,” Domogan stressed.
Under the tree cutting permit issued by former Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to SM City Baguio, the giant chain of malls is required to plant at least 5,700 trees to replace the 60 trees and saplings that were cut and balled from the project site.
However, SM management committed to plant one million trees with 500,000 trees to be planted exclusively in the different identified plantation sites around the city within a prescribed period of time. Further, it committed to maintain the trees that will be planted within a 3-year period as it will hire foresters to oversee the growth of the planted trees to guarantee 100 percent growth.
According to him, SM management partnered with the City government for the planting of more than 10,000 assorted tree species during the planned tree planting activity of city hall officials and employees within the 139-hectare city-owned property in barangays Camp 7 and Sto. Tomas School area on September 16, 2016.
Aside from city officials and employees, he revealed barangay officials and residents from barangays Camp 7, Sto. Tomas School Area, Dontogan and Sto. Tomas Proper will be joining in the mass tree planting activity which can also help the local government to delineate the metes and bounds of the property from that of Tuba, Benguet and other neighboring private properties in the area.
Domogan explained what is important now is for the mall management to comply with the compensatory requirement outlined by the concerned government agency in charge of regulating the project and which issued the required tree cutting permit for the project, saying that it is unfortunate that critics of the mall expansion project are sowing intrigues that tend to affect the credibility of those officials being unjustly linked to the issuance of the permits when it was the national government that gave the tree cutting permit for the project.
He claimed the property was bidded out during the time of former President Corazon C. Aquino and it was SM prime Holdings that gave the best offer that is why it was able to secure the title of the property and eventually develop it as one of the most visited malls in the country today./By Dexter A. See