Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Rotarians declare 'solidarity' with Palafox on Subic issue

Members of the Rotary Club of Manila have expressed their support to architect Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr., a Rotarian himself, who gave up a $1-million architectural fee “rather than destroy a two-hectare tree park” to give way to a hotel-casino complex by Korean investors at the Subic Bay Freeport.

“We declare our solidarity with the cause of Rotarian Jun Palafox, whose uncompromising stand has thrust him into the limelight and for which we are proud,” the Rotarians said in a statement furnished The STAR.

In the statement titled “Relocate the project, not the trees,” the Rotarians lauded Palafox “for putting Rotary’s principle ‘Service Above Self’ and the Four-Way Test in his profession.”

Those who signed the statement were former trade and industry secretary Cesar Bautista, former DTI undersecretary Ces Follosco, former Bases Conversion and Development Authority president Arsenio Bartolome, former budget secretary Benjamin Diokno, former American Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Marsh Thomson, former insurance commissioner Benjamin Santos, Rotary Club of Manila president Romy Batino, former Rotary Club of Manila president Alejandro Yap Jr., Rotary Club of Manila director Rico Domingo, and Rotarians Carlo Munoz, Jorge Salazar and James Chua.

The Rotarians expressed their support to save the tree park considered an urban forest by the SBMA Ecology Center, saying they have followed the controversial issue in the newspapers and read the arguments from both sides.

They noted that the two-hectare tree park has a total of 366 trees and palms, mostly old-growth and mature trees, with diameter ranging from 15 to 180 centimeters, with 37 endangered and several of unknown species, based on the Sept. 11, 2008 inventory report of the SBMA Ecology Center, and “that being densely stocked, is already considered an urban forest” by the center.

Thus, the Rotarians said saving the trees by balling them for transfer to other relocation sites will be a “fruitless exercise” because of the age, size, extensive root system of most of the trees in the park, and that “replacing those that will not survive by planting saplings means a wait of many years.”

In view of this, they said the “primordial question” is, “Why relocate the trees and not the project?” when there are “still plenty of open spaces” in the commercial business district of the Subic Bay Freeport.

The Rotarians said the site “serves as the only tree park being enjoyed by employees and workers of the SBMA (Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority) and locators alike in the commercial business district.” PhilStar

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