Youths go ‘noynoying’ in SM North, tag Aquino-Sy as partners in crime against the environment
In front of a crowd of onlookers and shoppers in SM North Edsa, Quezon City, members of youth political party Kabataan Partylist today held a flashmob protest in one of SM’s biggest malls to condemn both the Aquino government and Henry Sy’s mall company for their partnership in the “SM Tree Massacre” that has so far uprooted 40 trees from Luneta Hill, Baguio City.
Branding Aquino and Sy as “partners in crime against the environment”, the youth activists staged a ‘noynoying’ protest to condemn not only Aquino’s silence and inaction but as well as his active and dubious participation in the planned uprooting of close to 200 pine trees to give way to SM Baguio’s expansion project.
Citing news reports about Aquino’s finalization of the lot acquisition requirements to grant SM full ownership of Luneta Hill as well as the various environmental and building permits granted by his administration, Kabataan Secretary General Vencer Crisostomo assailed Aquino for taking the side of corporate greed while relegating the environment and safety of Baguio residents to the sidelines.
“Aquino’s silence and lack of sense of urgency by themselves are enough telling signs of which team he’s on in this battle for environmental justice. But with the national government approving the sale of Luneta Hill to SM Corporation, Aquino practically told SM to do whatever it pleases with a property now in the hands of a private corporation notorious for its atrocities against workers and the environment in the past,” the youth leader said.
Crisostomo said it is unnerving how Aquino quickly spelled a doomsday scenario as the “boy who cried wolf” in the issue of the North Korean rocket launch while the “real animals of greed and violence are left unscathed, committing environmental crimes of outrageous proportions in the middle of the night.” He said a government that has a clear political will and concern for the environment can move heaven and earth a la Corona impeachment by exercising its imminent domain powers and expropriate the property and buy back the land from SM as suggested by local government officials and environment groups. “But Aquino appears to be preoccupied looking straight up and waiting for rockets to fall from the sky,” he said.
‘Revoke all permits’
Meanwhile, Kabataan Representative Raymond Palatino is now directing his appeal to the Department of Public Works and Highways to revoke the clearance for the use of the road right-of-way issued to SM Corporation. He made the appeal after personally appearing before officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to request that the environmental compliance certificate granted to the SM Baguio expansion project be declared as null and void.
The DPWH permit and the deed of absolute sale are among the requirements submitted by the SM Baguio to the Baguio City Building and Architecture Office before it was issued a building permit for its expansion project. The other documents submitted by SM Baguio were a copy of the environmental compliance certificate, clearance issued by the City Environment and Parks Management Office, clearance from the Fire Department, and zoning clearance from the Office of the City Planning Officer.
“We will be knocking on the doors of these agencies just to ensure that the trees and the people of Baguio will be spared from the impending environmental massacre masterminded by SM and condoned by this government,” the youth solon said
Since January, Palatino has been calling for a congressional inquiry of the said expansion project, filing House Resolution 2069 which directs the House Committees on Ecology and on Natural Resources to probe the matter.