KEY members of the Save 182 Movement recently visited Mayor Mauricio Domogan to express their opposition to a giant mall chain’s expansion that would cause the earth-balling of 182 pine and alnus trees.
Domogan told petitioners led by Cordillera Ecological Center Director Michael Bengwayan that he doesn’t have authority to cancel the tree-cutting permit issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the building permit issued by the City Building and Architecture Office (CBAO).
He said only the DENR can revoke the tree-cutting permit while the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has the authority to cancel the building permit issued by CBAO.
However, he assured petitioners that he is also against the cutting of trees and would gladly endorse any letter or petition asking the DENR and DPWH to cancel or revoke the earlier issued permits.
This prompted Bengwayan and the rest of the petitioners to come up with another online petition entitled: “Cancel Tree Cutting, Earth-Balling and Building Permit of SM.”
Their earlier petition calling for the local officials and the DENR to stop the cutting or earth-balling of trees have already gathered more than 10,000 signatures both online and through printed copies of the petition.
The new online petition demands for President Benigno Aquino III’s intervention “to immediately stop the intended cutting and earth-balling of trees by SM at Luneta Hill, because the trees are part of Baguio’s natural and cultural heritage besides providing tremendous ecological importance.”
“We demand that the Philippine government’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje cancel the tree-cutting and earth-balling permit, as well as the ECC it gave to SM because no public hearing and consultation was ever held in relation to this project and it is a clear violation of the provisions of the Philippine Environment Impact System as well as existing DENR administrative order,” the petition reads.
The group’s petition also demands the DPWH to cancel the building permit issued by the City Building Architecture Office because the mall has not accomplished the public consultation and hearing requirement of the ECC, before applying for a building permit.
The group gained worldwide attention from social networking site Facebook to local and international media when it called on government to act with urgency on the matter as the conservation of the trees is supported by Section 16 of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines.