Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bakit kailangang tutulan ang pagputol ng mga puno sa Luneta Hill?


Kung ang mga pahayag ng SM City Baguio ang ating pagbabasehan, tila nga tuloy na tuloy na ang kanilang planong expansion upang lalo pang lubos na palakahin ang mala-higanteng mall sa tuktok ng Luneta Hill. Para ng gustong palabasin ay wala na talagang magagawa ang local an gobyerno o ang mga taong bayan upang pigilan ang kanilang planong putulin, o i-“earthball” ang humigit-kumulang 182 na puno dito.

Kung sabagay, meron na nga naman silang mga permit galing sa DENR para sa pagputol ng mga puno at sa lokal na pamahalaan para sa pagpapatayo ng gusali. Meron din silang Environmental Compliance Certificate, o ECC, na galing din sa DENR. Ang ECC ay nagpapatibay na ang plano ng SM City Baguio ay hindi makakasama sa kalikasan. Kung paano nila nakuha yun, sa kabila ng malamang na pagkamatay ng 182 na puno, hindi natin alam.

Bakit nga ba dapat tutulan ang balak ng SM? Una, ang bawat isang puno ay kayang mag-impok ng libo-libong litro ng tubig. 182 pa kaya? Kapag natuloy ang plano ng SM City Baguio na tanggalin o putulin ang mga puno sa Luneta Hill, saan pa ba aagos ang tubig ulan kundi sa mga mas mabababang lugar tulad ng Session Road, Gov. Pack Road at Harrison Road na maaaring maging sanhi ng pagbaha dito.

Pangalawa, kung walang mga punong maglilikom ng tubig ulan, maaring lumambot ng labis ang lupa at magdulot ng mga nakamamatay at nakapipinsalang landslides. Parang wala pa rin tayong natutunan sa Ondoy at Pepeng, o sa bagyong Sendong na naghatid ng matinding kalamidad sa Mindanao kamakailan lang.

Pangatlong dahilan ay may kinalaman sa ating kalusugan. Nililinis din ng mga puno ang hangin sa pamamagitan ng paglilikom ng mga nakapipinsalang Carbon sa himpapawid. Kapag mas kaunti ang puno sa isang urbanisadong lugar na tulad ng kinalalagyan ng SM City Baguio, mas madumi ang hangin. At hindi naman kaila sa atin na sa mga puno rin nanggagaling ang oxygen na ating hinihinga. Kapag kaunti ang mga puno, mas kaunti din ang nalalanghap nating sariwang hangin.

Sabi din nila, ang kanilang balak na bagong parking lot makakatulong sa pagpapaluwag ng daloy ng trapiko sa Central Business District. Hindi ako naniniwala diyan. Ako ay may sasakyan din, pero kadalasan ay hindi ko na ito dinadala dahil nga mahirap maghanap ng paparadahan. Kapag nagdagdag tayo ng parking lot, ine-engganyo natin ang mga mamayan na magdala ng sari-sariling sasakyan kasi nga, may paparadahan naman. Mas maraming sasakyan, mas masikip ang daloy ng trapiko. Mas mainam na sagot sa problema ng trapiko ang pagpapahusay ng ating sistemang sasakayang pampubliko.

Ang dami nilang sinasabing dahilan kung bakit sila magtatayo ng bagong gusali – kasama na dito ang pag hikayat daw ng mga turista at upang makapagbigay trabaho sa mga mamamayan. Sa unang banda, hindi SM ang ina-akyat ng mga turista dito kundi ang malamig na klima at ang mga punong pino. Pangalawa, ano nga bang klaseng trabaho ang alok ng SM City Baguio, yung trabahong kung saan hindi ka lalampas ng anim na buwan para manatili kang contractual at walang mga benepisyo?

Aminin muna kasi nila na magtatayo sila ng bagong gusali dahil sa isa at isang bagay lamang: pera. Ang tanong ko lang e, hindi pa ba sila masaya sa laki ng kinikita nila sa ngayon at kailangan pa nilang sipsipin pa ang mga tira-tirang mamimiling pinaghahati-hatian ng mga maliliit na negosyante sa Baguio?

Ilan lang ito sa mga dahilan kung bakit dapat tutulan ang plano ng SM City Baguio na putulin ang mga puno sa Luneta Hill. Dahil kapag hinayaan natin ang SM City Baguio na ipagpatuloy ang kanilang maitim na balak upang itaguyod ang kanilang kasakiman sa pera, paano pa natin mapipigilan ang iba pang nagbabalak ding gahasain ang ating kalikasan?

Hahayaan nga ba nating tuluyang mabura ang imahe at alala ng Baguio bilang “City of Pines?”

Saturday, February 4, 2012

More than 182


What’s with the 182 trees up on Luneta Hill anyway? A lot has been said about the air purifying and water holding capacity of those trees. I am not a botanist, I cannot expound on that.

But the death of these 182 trees, added to the hundreds that have been cut in Camp John Hay and who knows how many more will be cut in the future as they continue their development in the area, the piles of dead trees over at the Diplomat Hotel, are all coming at a time when the nation is still mourning the death of those who died in the flash floods in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. SM City Baguio’s expansion that will compromise those 182 trees is coming at the heels of the recent garbage slide in Irisan that claimed lives and property.

This after the city along with the rest of the region were hit with landslides brought about by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng that also resulted in countless deaths not too long ago.

What do you think could’ve prevented these tragedies?

SM Supermalls tells us that they have experts working on this project who can guarantee that the building’s ecological footprint would be kept at a minimum, and they will do so much to make up for whatever effect the project would have on the environment.

Would these be the same experts whose design apparently did not take into consideration the unique weather conditions in Baguio that leaves the interiors of the mall drenched and turns the stairs into virtual waterfalls during the rainy season? And I don’t know about you, but the occasional shaking of the floors especially at the supermarket area never fails to scare me to death. I don't trust your "experts" for how can they be called as such when they believe that removing 182 trees from the earth is not a big deal at all - even a child will tell you that there's got to be something wrong about that.

It is commendable that SM City Baguio promises to plant thousands of saplings (not seedlings, according to them). But where? It is the city’s Central Business District that needs the trees badly. What would really make the promise commendable is if they do it not to make up for something, but just because they really want to help enhance the city’s natural environment.

They have said so much about why they want to expand: promote tourism, provide employment, solve the city’s traffic woes by providing additional parking facilities. You mean tourists will now come up to Baguio primarily because of SM and not because of the climate, the beautiful scenery, the pine trees? And what kind of employment will they provide? The kind where you have to be let go in six months so you don’t become a regular employee who should be provided with benefits as required by law? And really, solve the traffic problem or provide more revenues for SM City Baguio?

Let us not forget that SM City Baguio is expanding primarily because of one thing – MORE MONEY. And at what cost? It’s not like Henry Sy is losing money with his branch here, he will continue to earn millions with or without the expansion.

And the issue on SM’s expansion and its effects goes beyond the environment. It is also about a rotten political system that allows corporate greed to trample on the well-being of the people. Whether you can do anything or not, whether you agree with our protest or not, at the end of the day, if SM City Baguio gets its way and those trees die, we, the people of Baguio lose, and corporate greed wins.

To our government officials, elected or otherwise, do not be too vain as to think that this is about you. It is not. The issue is so much bigger than your bloated egos. Remember that when we air our sentiments about your apparent inaction, we are addressing it to your office, and your office is a public trust. You just happen to be the one sitting on that chair at the moment. Oh how you degraded yourself dancing onstage like a monkey, begging us to put you where you are now just a couple of years ago. Remember that we can unseat you too.

And never forget that what makes a community, a city great is not its parking facilities, not a sky garden, not a mall - it’s the people whom you swore to protect, uphold the rights and welfare of.

This is not merely about the 182 trees up on Luneta Hill, this is also about the welfare of the more than 300,000 people who live in Baguio.



*OUT IN THE OPEN, Cordillera Today Feb. 5, 2012