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03 March 2009

Grand Utopia official lashes back at Palafox

A top official of the controversial $120-million hotel and casino that has become the subject of environmental concern has finally lashed back at its former architect who turned into the project’s No. 1 critic after being sidelined from the project.

In a statement, Executive Manager Eric Ghi-Buhm Park said that Grand Utopia Inc. is deeply disappointed that their former architect Felino Palafox Jr. began criticizing their Subic Project in the media using documents of their company.

“By coming out in the media and speaking before various public gatherings [while] criticizing our Subic project, the architect has committed a breach not only of the provisions of the subcontract agreement but also of professional ethics,” Park added.

Environment Secretary Lito Atienza also inspected the project site last January and confirmed that the trees remained intact at the project site.

“If architect Palafox, as our professional local architect, was sincerely concerned about the trees from the very beginning, wasn’t it his responsibility to advise his client Grand Utopia of an alternative solution instead of publicly criticizing his client’s project in an unethical way with all exaggerations?” Park rued.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand Arreza in a separate statement is urging the critics of the project to be objective and stop sensationalizing the issue that has only delayed the project.

“We still think that this project would be beneficial to the Subic Bay Freeport, especially with the projected manpower hiring of about 5,000. It’s a project proposal that we have to evaluate objectively,” Arreza said.

Arreza made the appeal after the Special Committee on Bases Conversion of the House of Representatives on Tuesday conducted its initial hearing on two resolutions seeking to investigate claims made by noted architect Palafox.

The project remained on hold since November last year after Palafox’s claims triggered protests from environmental groups concerned about trees at the project site.

The SBMA official also bared project proponent Grand Utopia Inc. has already asked the SBMA to give them an alternate location since the allegations have caused the project much delay. (Anthony Bayarong, Manila Times)

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