Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today directed officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera Administrative Region (DENR-CAR) to implement a court order stopping the “cutting, earth-balling and uprooting of trees from the ground” at SM Baguio.

Paje issued the instruction to DENR-CAR Executive Director Clarence L. Baguilat in light of the three-day temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) issued by Baguio City Regional Trial Court Branch 5 Judge Cleto R. Villacorta III.

“I already issued an order to our regional officials in Baguio City to comply with the order of Judge Villacorta. As we talk, our DENR-CAR must have already served its directive enjoining the management of SM Baguio to strictly comply with the terms and conditions of the TEPO,” Paje said.

The environment chief acknowledged that the issuance of the TEPO was in accordance with the rules of procedure on environmental cases drawn by the Supreme Court to enforce environmental laws.

The TEPO also ordered that the case be referred back to the regular environmental court handling the case.

As of press time, 40 Alnus and one Benguet pine tree have already been reported cut or earth-balled from Luneta Hill. There were a total of 182 such trees previously inventoried for cutting, earth-balling or transplantation from the site to give way to a proposed expansion project of SM City Baguio, which in turn committed to plant over 50,000 trees to replace the affected trees.