KABATAAN party-list Representative Raymond Palatino recently asked his colleagues to investigate the proposed mall expansion along Luneta Hill set to be implemented soon.
Palatino claimed he is against any cutting or uprooting of some 182 trees in the Luneta Hill property to give way to a seven-storey mall expansion.
The lawmaker recently filed House Resolution 2069 directing the House Committee on Natural Resources and Committee on Ecology to conduct a joint inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the legality and propriety of the permit granted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) allowing the cutting and earth-balling of trees.
The resolution also directs the DENR to immediately suspend the clearance and permit granted to SM Development Corporation (SMDC).
“Baguio City is one of the country’s premiere tourist destinations because of its cool climate, panoramic view and bounty of pine trees. The charm of the city relies on the presence of trees within a highly urbanized city,” Palatino said.
SMDC intends to cut 43 fully grown Alnus japonica trees and uproot 97 growing pine trees with the approval of the permit last October 27, 2011, signed by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje on October 17, 2011.
“Baguio residents state that they were not consulted by the DENR regarding the SMDC plan, which citizens vehemently oppose, before the permit was granted, and thus accuse that the DENR showing preferential treatment for SMDC,” he said.
Thousands of protesters held a rally last January 20, in the city, and more than 6,000 signatures have been collected for a petition to stop the cutting and uprooting of trees by SMDC.
In his resolution, Palatino cited Article II, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution clearly stating: “The State shall protect and advance the right of the peoples to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”
He also cited President Benigno Aquino III’s Executive Oder No. 23 issuing a moratorium on cutting trees.