Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, January 11, 2009

SBMA: DENR to decide Subic casino’s fate

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – The fate of a Korean casino-hotel project here now lies in the hands of the environment department, after it revoked the power of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to issue environmental clearances for projects in this free port, an SBMA official said.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said the SBMA was reviewing the application for an environmental compliance certificate of Grand Utopia Inc. for its $120-million casino-hotel.

“The ECC for Grand Utopia is still under review. [On Thursday], we submitted their applications to the [Department of Environment and Natural Resources], the agency that will decide whether to issue the ECC,” Arreza told the Inquirer.

Earlier, architect and urban planner Felino Palafox Jr. revealed that he backed out of the project after he learned that more than 300 trees would be cut to give way to the project.

But Arreza said no tree would be cut in the project site, contrary to Palafox’s revelation. However, a report from a survey team commissioned by Grand Utopia showed that at least 161 trees would have to be replaced.

Arreza said the SBMA is “not concerned about Palafox’s allegations at all.”

“Now that the DENR is part of the process, people will know whether we are correct or not,” he said. By Robert Gonzaga - Inquirer Central Luzon Desk

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