MANILA, Philippines – The SM Group stopped their earth-balling operations in Baguio City Wednesday night in compliance with the temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) issued by a court.
However, the environmental group Project Save 182 still filed a motion to cite SM in contempt for defying the court order.
“The fact that they committed it at the time the TEPO was issued, constitutes an act of contempt,” explained Atty. Jensen Nacar.
SM said they immediately stopped operations the moment they received the court order.
The firm said they were only following the advice of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“SMIC [SM Investments Corp.] sent a representative to RTC [Regional Trial Court] yesterday to secure a copy of the TEPO,” SM spokesperson Karen Nobres said in a text message. “The earth-balling is being done at night because it was the requirement of the forester of DENR.”
DENR Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio said there is a possibility the trees will die if the earth-balling procedure is done during the day.
“Kapag nag-earthball ka ng mainit at dry, malaki ang possibility na mamatay ang puno,” he said.
SM added that they are not trying to hide the earth-balling of the trees.
But noise and dust due to the operation has been an inconvenience to customers, which is why they had to cover the mall with tarpaulin.
The DENR said a representative has been sent to monitor the area.
Tensions ran high during the 3-day protest of Project Save 182 against the mall expansion.
On Wednesday, at least 5,000 people joined the protest.
More than 100 policemen were deployed. The protest ended on Thursday. -- Reports from Maira Wallis, ABS-CBN News Northern Luzon; ANC