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February 2, 2013

Occupy SM Baguio, Game Over?

If the United States has Occupy Wall Street, Philippines has Occupy SM Baguio. If Occupy Wall St goal is to stop wide income disparity, Occupy SM is trying to stop cutting of trees, they have one thing in common though, fighting corporate greed. For those who are not familiar with SM, SM is the largest shopping mall and retail operator in the Philippines. SM has several branches spread across the Philippines and the subject of protest is their branch in Baguio City, the summer capital of the Philippines and famous for its pine trees.

Occupy SM was established due to SM City Baguio's plan to cut or uproot trees to give way to their expansion project. With this expansion project 182 trees are possible to be cut or uprooted. Occupy SM held several rallies protesting SM City Baguio's expansion project. This was attended by more than 5,000 people, comprising of Baguio’s residents and environmental group. Environmental complaints were also filed against SM Baguio by some environmental group to stop them from uprooting trees.

Sadly, it seems that the expansion project is already a done deal since Court dismissed the case vs. SM Baguio. Judge Antonio Esteves found no irregularity in the issuance of the amended Environmental Compliance Certificate, tree cutting and earth balling permits, building permit and zoning clearance. This should not be the end of the protest though, we can still continue our protest by boycotting that SM branch and not voting the government official who supported it or did not do anything to stop to it. By doing this, SM and some government officials will realize that by doing harm to the environment their earnings and career will be affected. We should not stop making noise until SM and some government official stops doing something that is harmful to the environment. We should not adapt the ningas kugon attitude because we will give the SM management and City Officials the impression that they all need to do is wait a little and the objection to their questionable activities will automatically subside.

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