THE Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a stop to the clearing trees on Luneta Hill in Baguio City where SM is expanding its shopping mall.
The High Tribunal en banc, granted a request by the Cordillera Global Network (CGN) and residents calling for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the cutting of 182 pine and alnus trees on Luneta Hill.
The case had reached the high court after the the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) permitted the clearing of trees despite the opposition by CGN and Luneta Hill residents.
In issuing the TRO, the High Tibunal stressed the order shall be effective immediately and until further orders from the Court.
In the meantime, the High Tibunal ordered the DENR to explain its side on the issue.
The case had been filed through a petition submitted by the CGN and residents who questioned the DENR’s issuance of permit to SM to cut the trees.
On January 2015, SM cleared 60 of the 182 trees after the mall developer was able to secure a favorable ruling from the Court of Appeals Special Ninth Division on December 12, 2014.
The appellate court had ruled that the petition of CGN must be rejected and affirmed an earlier decision by the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City that allowed the mall to proceed with cutting the trees.
In issuing its decision, the Court of Appeals gave the opinion that the cutting of the trees has “no hazardous effect on the health of the people of Baguio because the removal will be compensated by the green building [which (the mall) intends to put up].
It said that the 2,000 trees are already planted in Busol watershed and 30,000 more trees that will be planted within the next three years from 2012.