So, the 182 trees on the SM property in Baguio City were already cut down. It’s the mall’s property after all. I wrote about the issue in a post here a couple of years ago or so and my views haven’t changed. The local coalition against the earth-balling and cutting down of the pine trees on the SM property should have sued the City Government not SM City, because while the apparent reason may look like corporate power vs the City’s heritage of pines and their contribution to sustaining the City into the future, the real case has to do with the absence of a land use plan and the ensuing zoning code as mandated in the LGU Code. SM City won it’s case only because the lawyer of the coalition failed to provide a better argument for his client. The lesson therefore is get a wise and smart lawyer.
But back to the City’s lack of a land use plan and zoning code. Without appropriate controls on the uses of land, the outcome on the City’s landscape has been haphazard development on virtually any green space in the CBD and the suburbs. The lack of zoning laws has exposed residential areas and subdivisions even to nuisance from night clubs and bars, chemicals from factories, tall buildings that block out the sun from bungalow type houses, irrational growth of commercial shops, public transport routes cutting through subdivisions, to cite a few intrusive effects. Still, Child Friendly Barangay Awards are handed out like lollipops to young children.
The City Government’s continuing irresponsibility in this matter is like a cancer cell slowly eating away at the City’s landscape and residents’ physical, mental, and emotional health.
On the other hand, with appropriate land use regulations and zoning laws, development and settlement patterns are shaped in a responsible way. The Sky Park wouldn’t have been approved in the first place, or supposing SM City insisted on the project, applying for a change in the zoning would involve consultation with Baguio residents who would’ve voted down SM’s proposal and none of the dramatics and heartaches over Save 182 need have occurred.