Saturday, May 2, 2015

Environmentalist In Baguio City Allegedly Attacked By Two Men At The Sto. Tomas Forest Reserve

Marie Balangue, an environmentalist in Baguio City who has been among those fighting for the protection and preservation of green areas in the city and Benguet, says she has been physically-attacked and harassed by two men during a trip to the Sto. Tomas Forest Reserve on Friday morning.

In a post on Facebook, Balangue divulged that she went to Sto. Tomas to inspect the waste management system being followed within the reservation. She said that she was trying to find out where an orange PVC pipe leads to. She was denied entry into Baguio City Congressman Nicasio Aliping Jr.'s property which is located in the area so she took another route to follow the pipe.

According to her, while on her way, three stones were thrown at her. Two men then came at her and that one of them pushed her causing her to fall down a slope headfirst. She added that the other man took a cellular phone from her.

After the incident, Balangue said she made her way to the road where she parked her car. That's when she found out that the car's windshield has been smashed. She reported the incident to the police, she said.
Image credit; Marie Balangue via Facebook.
Since last year, the Sto. Tomas Forest Reserve in Tuba, Benguet has been a source of controversy. The place was the talk of the town early in 2014 when Baguio City Congressman Nicasio Aliping Jr. was accused of damaging a sizable portion of the reservation. Dozens of trees were felled. Water springs got polluted. Slopes of the mountain were dug up and exposed thus significantly increasing the risks for erosion.

Then a television company decided to shoot a show called Forevermore within the area. The popularity of the series turned the shooting location into a side show. Thousands of tourists troop to the area on a regular basis. Although the economic benefits are recognizable, the place started to cause ire to citizens and groups who are concerned about the impact of the influx of people.

Trash piled up. Stalls selling everything like energy drinks, halo-halo and culturally-insensitive souvenir items sprouted in the area like mushrooms after a rainy day. From a distance, the place would remind you of the slums lining the banks of the Pasig River.

And now, this incident of a woman being attacked in the area by two men.