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19 December 2008

NGO backs $120-million hotel-casino in Subic

Out of 282 trees at the site where the $120-million casino-hotel will be located there is one Narra tree, said Kanlungan, a nongovernment organization based in Los Baños.

Kanlungan composed of professors from University of the Philippines- Los Baños (UPLB) was tapped by Grand Utopia to conduct an initial environmental examination report for the casino hotel project in Subic.

“In our report we only found 282 trees most of them fruit bearing trees which are common,” Professor Pastor Malabrigo told The Manila Times in an interview during the site visit with media.

Contrary to the claims of Urban Planner Felino Palafox that century old trees would be cut to make way for casino-hotel project, Malabrigo said that “mahirap masabi na century old tree dahil wala tayo basihan [it would be difficult to say century old trees since there is no basis for the statement].”

He added that in their recommendation to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA)ecology center, 51 trees would be retained, 70 trees would be bowled and 161 would be replaced or cut.He said that their decision to cut the trees is based on their health.

“Eight hectares of reforestation against the area is definitely much better,” Malabrigo said.“Only one Narra would be bowled and the rest are mostly common trees, it would cost around P100, 000.00 to P200, 000.00 depending on the size of the tree,” he added.

He explained that they have identified an area in Pastolan for the location of the reforestation; the ratio according to Malabrigo is 50 seedlings for each tree that would be cut. “We have already submitted the report to the ecology center for their review,” Malabrigo said.

Grand Utopia Inc., Executive Managing Director Louis Jong-Moon Choi in an interview with The Manila Times said that they are still waiting for the recommendation from the ecology center of SBMA before they can move and start operation on the site.

We will follow the decision of the Ecology Center, we don’t want to destroy the environment and we will follow Philippine laws,” Choi said.“I consider Palafox as one of the best architects in the Philippines and that is why we are surprise and curious why he is making such statements,” he added. (Anthony Bayarong, Manila Times)

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