Thursday, April 12, 2012

Property Rights 4: Trees, SM Baguio, Henry Sy and Twitter

Two days ago, April 10, I posted this:

The proposed cutting of 182 trees -- some have been cut already last midnight -- near SM Baguio to expand that mall, especially its parking lot, has attracted angry reactions from the public, as seen from many sarcastic tweets. From what I understand, the land where the trees are standing is private property, not government property. Thus, private owners of the land, in this case SM Malls and the Sy family, can decide what to do with their land, whether to keep the trees or remove them and convert the land it into a botanical garden or a hospital or a mall extension or what have you.

Here are some tweets on "Henry Sy" hashtag today:

ano ba HENRY SY! sa palawan nag tree planting palagi kaw naman puputulin mo lng? para sa parking lot??? my gulay! ano utak meron ka sir?? 

 Pakitang tao lang ba ang green bags ni Henry Sy? Todo mo na.. save the trees!

RT @superstarmarian Hi Mr. Henry Sy. Im pine. How are you? Are you pine too? Or are you pine trees? #SaveBaguioPineTrees#EnvironMeynteyn 

Dear Henry Sy, before you cut the pine trees, bayaran mo muna si God. It's His property. #SaveBaguioPineTrees 

Henry Sy enough! mayaman ka na! #SaveBaguioPineTrees 

There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed. ~Mohandas K. Gandhi. Henry Sy #SaveBaguioPineTrees 

Dear Henry Sy, You make me wish that I had more middle fingers.#SaveBaguioPineTrees 

RT @superstarmarian ODK!gagawin palang parking lat un pinutulan ng pinetrees!mr. henry sy ur parking at the wrong tree!#SaveBaguioPineTrees
    #SaveBaguioPineTrees come on Henry're the richest man in the can buy another free lot for ur Mall's parking lot

    RT @parengjoserizal "Mr. Henry Sy, I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the pine trees have no tongues..."

     #SaveBaguioPineTrees Get a life Henry Sy. We don't need your stupid parking lot in exchange of 100+ trees. Just go dig your own space. 

    "@NormanIsJay: Cut Henry Sy's greed, not the Baguio Pine Trees!#SaveBaguioPineTrees"

    Poems are made by fools like me. But only Henry Sy can cut those trees. #SaveBaguioPineTrees 

    I cant believe it! alot of people are mad at Henry Sy! But I think we should #SaveBaguioPineTrees 

    #SaveBaguioPineTrees Get a life Henry Sy. We don't need your stupid parking lot in exchange of 100+ trees. Just go dig your own space! 

    Bakit mga PINE TREES ang kelangan putulin? Bakit hindi nalang si MR. HENRY SY??? At sa mukha nalang niya magpark.

    Haynako Henry Sy

    Dear Henry Sy, You make me wish that I had more middle fingers.#SaveBaguioPineTrees 

    pati ba nman yung mga nanahimik na pine trees kelangan mong i cut down Mr. Henry Sy#SaveBaguioPineTrees 

    Wag niyo namang criticize ang lolo kong si Henry Sy :( 

      i feel bad for the cutting of pine trees around #SMBaguio, but stop cursing Mr. Henry Sy ;( It's their land, what can we do?

      Henry Sy, stop selling green eco friendy bag! #SMBaguio 

      Breaking: NoKor rocket maaaring lumihis patungong Manila. Hinahanap daw ang bahay ni Henry Sy#SaveBaguioTrees 

      So @smsupermalls put profit over the planet. Hang your head in shame Henry Sy, hasn't the world given you enough?

      Henry Sy can rule the world and eat all the money he has. And we are a damned country of builders with 1/8 of a true builder's brain.

      Wag ganyan. Violence will not solve violence. -- "@Jolina_GAGASAVE 182 Pine Trees in Baguio. Patayin si Henry Sy, Ang tunay na Demonyo."

      RT Mr. Henry Sy Maluwag yung Pacific Ocean.:)#SaveBaguioPineTrees 

      I also posted this thread in my facebook wall, I wrote, 
      SM's environmentalism is backfiring. Bringing in Al Gore in Manila to talk climate rackets, promoting ecobags, etc. Now SM receiving hard flak from the public over the cutting of 182 trees in SM Baguio. You reap what you sow. 
      The Sy family spent huge money to bring in Al Gore and other environmentalist projects, now they will spend huge money for PR against this huge public backlash on tree cutting. Meanwhile, I support boycott SM campaign. I also support boycott Ayala malls, para patas :-) 

      What are the lessons here?

      1. Climate alarmism can backfire at one's business.
      2. The public's environmental awareness is very high.
      3. Twitter is a very strong force in public expression, more than blogs or mainstream media.
      4. Henry Sy, his family and mall business will suffer some revenue losses even temporarily.
      5. Local government of Baguio City will suffer equally in terms of public discontent.
      6. Private property rights are also subject to heavy public pressure and the use of such rights can be altered, especially for big businesses protecting a big brand. 

      Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a recipient of the huge SM/BDO/Sy family money.  Will the WWF defend SM malls on this issue?

      Update today, April 12:

      I posted this blog article yesterday in my UPSE alumni association yahoogroups, I got two good comments from two fellow alumni, Gary Makasiar and Ed Miguel.

      Gary: Regarding SM Baguio, I dont quite follow your latest  take. Prolly because I havent  read all the related links. Are you saying the Sy's should have full prerogative regarding use of their private property and that public opinion can go hang? Or are you quite relieved that there is finally public pressure bearing on property owners like them, regarding  what they can  do on their  piece of real estate? It didnt come out too clear  from your  summary. 

      Me: For me, there are two issues there. One is property rights, the other is environmentalism or more appropriately, climate alarmism. 

      The land where the 182 trees are standing on is private property. Thus, SM has the sole prerogative what to do with their land. In this angle, I cannot oppose their decision to remove those trees and replant them elsewhere, or just kill those trees and plant new trees at 100:1 or higher ratio for every tree that they remove.

      The 2nd angle is environmentalism boomerang on SM. They helped hype up climate alarmism in this country by (a) bringing in Al Gore in Manila to talk about climate lies and climate rackets, (b) funding the WWF via direct and indirect money (eg, you withraw from any BDO ATM, the machine always asks you to donate to WWF or not), (c) promoting Earth Hour lunacy, ecobags, etc.. All these help expand enviro fanaticism and militance. Now many environmentalists and militants are training their guns and anger at SM. Poetic justice, and I laugh at this turn of events.

      Gary: Im still curious about the SM property. Would you still the retain the same outlook, if they decided to use it as  their private garbage  preserve   which they and their SM Baguio tenants could use to dump their refuse ?

      Me: Air, like the sea and ocean, is not and can never be assigned private property rights.
      that's where collective rights via government can come in.

      Theoretically, SM can do that, convert a portion of its private land into a garbage dumpsite. It's within their right and prerogative as private property owners. It will save them some money. But the costs to SM will be larger than the benefits. These costs would include:

      1. Endless legal battles with various individuals, companies, NGOs because of the foul air in the community.
      2. Reduce customers because of the (a) millions of flies around SM and (b) bad corporate image of being a dirty mall beside a dumpsite.
      3. Sabotage of their properties by some angry individuals. People who have no means to go to courts can throw stones (even bombs) on any SM property.

      In short, even if SM or any company can do it, they will not do it. 

      Ed"Trees" by Joyce Kilmer was required reading in HS lit. But I think those Baguio environmentalists are barking up the wrong tree. You can always count on lawyers to mess things up.
      The seeds for this boruhaha was planted a long time ago: the moment SM got a locational clearance for their development. Can you imagine a mall without parking? Today is just an offshoot of the original sin. Tree-lined ground level parking is the most expensive, that's why they will probably put up a parking building. So, when they got the mall, they should also accept the parking.
      Why blame SM? As a private developer, they went through the process and got a permit to relocate (not cut) some trees. They also undertook to plant 50 trees for every one touched. So, what's the buzz about getting a thousand new trees, modern parking, and rainwater runoff facility that have all the necessary government permits? If ever, these tree-lovers should be demonstrating against those who issued those permits in the first place. Why aren't they demonstrating against the illegal loggers in the area that should already be renamed Bald Mountain Province?

      See also:
      Property Rights 1: IPRI 2009 Report, March 02, 2009
      Property Rights 2: IPRI 2010 Report, February 27, 2010
      Property Rghts 3: IPRI 2011 Report, March 29, 2011
      Fat-Free Econ 5: Property Rights, Policy Lefts, April 04, 2012


      Elevic Pernis said...

      If the land where the trees are located do indeed belong to SM group of companies, then they have the right to do whatever they want with the trees.

      But are there any risks such as soil erosion or possible landslide that could affect other people? If that is the case, then they should be prudent with cutting trees. Otherwise, if there is no risk involved, then this should be no issue.

      Bienvenido Oplas Jr said...

      On the "externalities" of trees and their protective capacity on hilly or sloping land, this argument should apply to all structures in Baguio and other mountainous areas. Tens of thousands of houses and small buildings were built on hilly or even high slope areas in Baguio, the trees there were cut and cleared, not much noise from the public.

      On the SM case, I think SM has more than enough money to build solid structures to control possible soil erosion.

      Anonymous said...

      If Henry SY wants to exercise his rights , then I hope he will also respect us in exercising our RIGHTS for a greener earth. Mag isa ka lang pero marami kami. If you will really push through with your evil plans because of greed, I hope you will not regret it. At sana walang madamay kagaya sa nangyari sa Cagayan de Oro and Iligan city. Sana ikaw lang ang managot sa inang kalikasan.

      Bienvenido Oplas Jr said...

      In this case, do people want to abolish private property in land and all lands should be government property? Supposed that person A has 5 hectares of mostly forested land and he wants to clear many trees to put up a chicken farm or a pasture land for cows to help augment food production in the country. But then other people will intervene and argue that he cannot do that in his private land because humanity needs more trees. In a socialist, all lands belong to the government system, the "outsiders" desire will prevail. In a private property rights system, the "outsiders" desire must give way to the private owners' plan and priorities.

      TonyRome said...

      I just like to point out while you made nice generalizations from the SM Baguio issue, I find some data wrong. One of the basic is, SM Baguio did not cut any tree, 182 trees were earth-balled (transferred). SM Baguio's redevelopment is a project, while heavily scrutinized by the public, is actually greener than most projects built in Baguio. Did you know that they will plant 50,000 more trees? Point is, all the people's "OA" reactions is actually counter-productive to the green plan SM is planning. Here's an article I read which I hope you can share also to your readers. thanks and more power to you sir!

      SAVEBAGUIODUDE said...

      Manong, I'm a resident of Baguio. Consider that Luneta Hill, where the mall is currently located, is the only green zone that the city has in the central business district. If my memory serves me right they have already cut hundreds of trees in that area during the mall's construction. The redevelopment will not even solve the issue on easing the flow of the traffic nor about helping the environmentally friendly architectural designs on reducing pollution. The issue is not about who owns the land, the issue is how will they comply with terms set by the people who will suffer from great wrath of nature in the long run. The people can do something, CLOSE SESSION ROAD AND ALLOW PEOPLE TO GATHER AND MARCH TOWARDS SM. They should cut their greed not our greens :)