Sting forces venue switch in Philippines tree row

Rock superstar Sting has forced organisers to move his planned one-night show in the Philippines to another Manila venue amid a spat over pine trees involving the original hosts, it was announced Friday.

The Manila leg of his "Back to Bass Tour" on December 9 will now be hosted by Araneta Coliseum, instead of Mall of Asia Arena as originally announced, said his official website www.sting.com.

Earlier in the day, the local concert promoters informed the Arena that Sting had called off his show there, Arena general manager Arnel Gonzales said.

Sting announced his decision after learning that pine trees growing outside a provincial shopping mall owned by the same holding company that owns Arena were being removed for an expansion programme, Gonzales added.

"Somebody misled the Englishman In New York over the venue," Gonzales told AFP, referring to one of the British-born star's hit songs.

Gonzales said that while Arena and SM Baguio are sister companies, the concert venue had nothing to do with the trees' transfer.

Environmentalists had sued the SM Baguio shopping mall in the northern mountain resort of Baguio earlier this year to stop the uprooting and relocation of 182 old trees, mostly pines, growing at its property.

The case sparked calls for a boycott of the SM chain, controlled by the family of the country's richest man, billionaire developer Henry Sy.

The mall chain said it had secured permits to remove the trees, but the transfer of all 182 trees to a government lot had not been completed due to the civil suit, which remains on trial.

"It's something that we did not expect," Gonzales said of the cancellation of the Arena concert.

Sting, former frontman of "The Police", is known for his activism on a number of social and political causes and is closely associated with the human rights monitor Amnesty International.

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