In the first quarter of 2012, an uproar was caused by the sudden news that SM Incorporated’s expansion project will cost 182 pine trees to be cut or earth-balled. Hundreds of environmental advocates, groups and Baguio citizens protested this environmental degradation for worries of the effects it will have on the city and to its people. Plans were made and actions were taken. A Temporary Environmental Protection Order was momentarily given to halt the earth-balling while law suits were forwarded by several groups regarding the Environmental Compliance Certificate awarded to SM as well as the expansion project itself. Alas, the cases were dismissed in December 2012, stating that the case failed to show enough evidence as to the harmful effects of the project. Still, the case was lifted to the Court of Appeals until last week, the court finally released its decision.
The court once again dismissed the case citing that SMI has not violated any legal procedures and that the expansion project will not have an adverse effect in the City’s environment.
This is a big disappointment for the citizens of Baguio, but not quite surprising. Once again, corporate greed has crawled its way to the judiciary system and denied real justice to the people. Tongtongan ti Umili – Cordillera Peoples Alliance reiterates that the court’s move to dismiss the cases filed against the erection of the SMI expansion is a narrow-minded decision that proves whoever has the resources holds the power.
We need to go back to the principal issue in this case. Who will truly benefit from the project? This is, first and foremost, a project for profit and not for the welfare of the Baguio citizens- a clear manifestation of corporate greed. It must be stressed that the repercussions of the said project will surely be felt in the future. To say that there are no irreparable damages to the environment is being ignorant to the impact of the corporate greed and development aggression throughout history. We have seen over and over the ill effects of urbanization to the environment.
We must be conscious of the impact SMI will have in our local and homegrown businesses here in the city. How many local businesses will suffer due to the unequal competition? We, as Baguio citizens, grew up with these homegrown businesses. We know these people, they became a part of our lives. As we let SMI pursue its expansion projects (hotels, restaurants, parking area, recreational area) creep into what is already a crowded Baguio, we are contributing to the eventual death of local and homegrown businesses and establishments.
Tongtongan ti Umili – Cordillera Peoples Alliance cannot emphasize more that the continuing battle against SMIs corporate greed is in the hands of a united citizens of Baguio. SMI does not and will not care because it is money-driven. And that is why we need to shake them with the strength of our actions. We have witnessed the strength in numbers back in 2012 when the citizens of Baguio united to oppose the earth-balling of 182 trees by SMI. Now that the legal machinery we have depended on to put a stop to the continuation of the project has failed us again, the answer is in the hands of the people taking a united stand and forging an action to really show the Baguio we want. The fight against corporate greed continues.
Stop corporate greed, save our environment!
Perry Mendoza, Chairperson
Tracy Anne Dumalo, Secretary-General