17 March 2016

SBMA stops tree-cutting by Taiwan firm in free port (INQ report)

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has stopped a Taiwanese company operating inside this free port from cutting trees for failing to secure an environmental clearance.

Warehousing firm MSK Group Work Inc. was issued a cease-and-desist order (CDO) by SBMA’s Ecology Center on March 11, following a hazard call inspection on a lot being leased by the company inside the Subic Bay Gateway Park.

Lawyer Ruel John Kabigting, Ecology Center officer in charge, has notified officials of the Taiwanese firm about its violations, which included cutting 50 trees and proceeding with construction without obtaining environmental permits.

Addressed to Kelly Uy, MSK general manager, the cease order also required the firm to replace the fallen trees with 1,752 saplings “due to the gravity of the violation.”

Kabigting has also called for a technical compliance conference to discuss the company’s violations.

“The [conference] will allow [MSK] to explain the circumstances of the violation and [to] present a proposal to remedy the deficiency and assure future compliance,” Kabigting told Uy in the letter.

Kabigting also warned the firm that SBMA would suspend or cancel the company’s permit to operate if it does not comply with conditions set by the agency.

SBMA Chair Roberto Garcia said MSK has been clearing its leased area to build a warehouse but has failed to obtain necessary permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“The CDO will remain effective until the company complies with all the requirements set in the order and pays all penalties or fines associated with the violations,” Garcia said.

The replanting program, he said, is part of the sanctions that the DENR imposes on firms responsible for the illegal cutting of trees.

Garcia also said that MSK would be liable for possible landslides due to a weakened slope in the area that had been attributed to the firm’s construction work.

“The company should also have slope protection project in that area,” he said.

He said MSK officials have already apologized about the company’s violations.

“I’ve met with some of the company’s officials and they told me that they were sorry about what they did. But I told them that they should cease operation for now,” he said. (Allan Macatuno, Philippine Daily Inquirer)

WAREHOUSING firm MSK Group Work Inc. has been issued a cease-and-desist order by the Ecology Center of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) on March 11, following a hazard call inspection of a lot being leased by the company inside the Subic Bay Gateway Park. (Allan Macatuno / Inquirer Central Luzon)