SC permanently bans cutting of trees in Baguio City

Maris Federez
Kennon Road in Baguio City

The Supreme Court has released its decision on Wednesday (April 10) to make permanent the temporary restraining order it issued on March 24, 2015 that restricted the cutting of trees along Luneta Hill for the expansion of a mall in the city.

“The permanent status of the temporary restraining order is without prejudice to the filing of an application of environmental compliance certificate in accordance with existing laws and regulations,” said SC Public Information Office Chief Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka.

The petitioners against the cutting of the trees in the city, however, were not satisfied with the Supreme Court’s decision, saying that the number of trees they were fighting for to save has now dwindled into half.

Glo Abaeo, former President of Cordillera Global Network said over a phone interview that it was a bittersweet victory for them, “because after 7 years ng ipinaglalaban namin, may magandang resulta pero ayun nga naputol na iyong karamihan ng kahoy doon. So from 182, na pinoprotesta namin noon I think 100 or more na yata ang naputol [because after 7 years that we have been fighting, we got good results, but still, many trees had been cut down. So from 182 that we are proresting (to be protected), I think 100 or more were cut down].”

Karlo Altomonte, Spokesperson of Save 182, on the other hand, said, “too late ang lumabas na desisyon. Pero napigilan sana natin yung panggagahasa sa kalikasan ng baguio kung umaksyion ang local government [the decision came too late. But we could have prevented the ravaging of the natural resources of Baguio (City) had the local government acted against it].”

In 2018, the Baguio City Local Government released the guidelines on issuing permits to business establishments about cutting trees.

The guidelines said exceptions on the ban to cut trees include trees that will put establishments and passers-by in danger, such as trees that have been rendered weak by infestation and trees that are already dead.  – Maris Federez (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

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