Hundreds of rallyists led by UP Baguio Chancellor Priscilla Supnet-Macansantos and Baguio Bishop Carlito Cenzon ringed the one-hectare forest park at the Baguio Convention Center area this afternoon to dramatize their resolve to protect one of the city's remaining pine stands from commercialization.
It is recalled that last May, SM Prime Holdings, the country's undisputed "largest mall operator," bared to the city government its plan to erect a condominium complex in the said lot, intending to shave off more than 300 pine trees in the process. Five years ago, SM generated protests from alarmed citizens when it reportedly cut down more than a hundred pine trees at the former Luneta Hill to pave the way for the rise of the mall that now commands upper Session Road.
After forming the "human barricade," the throng decided to make a "Jericho march" around SM Baguio via Governor Pack Road but were blocked by a team of SWAT policemen at the traffic circle just below SM's first guardhouse. Failing to negotiate for an unscheduled pass around the commercial complex, the protesters -- many of whom were drenched by the light rain that accompanied them -- eventually dispersed.
Back at UP Baguio, Chancellor Macansantos delivered her final speech for the day in which she noted that even though the march was halted, the message against the condotel plan was at least clearly made especially that the activity was adequately covered by local media.
Posters courtesy of Junley Lazaga