Sting is known for his environmental concerns. Now the star has changed the location of his gig in the Philippines after learning that the stadium's owners allegedly planned to uproot 182 trees for a parking lot and mall expansion.
Activists from the Project: Save 182 group have been fighting the planned redevelopment of the SM Baguio City mall in the northern mountain town for several months, condemning the trees removal.
Karlo Marko Altomonte, who masterminded the petition, wrote to Sting's foundation saying that removing the trees would significantly increase air pollution, along with the risk of landslides and flooding in an area near schools, AP reported.
The warning must have influenced Sting’s decision to relocate his concert, scheduled for early December, moving the venue from SM Mall of Asia Arena to the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The SM Mall of Asia Arena said that changing the site of the gig was "the decision of the artist himself."
"Understandably, the known environment advocate artist was left with no choice in spite of the SM representatives' appeal," it said in a statement.
SM Prime Holdings operating SM malls and the arena on Manila Bay is owned by the Philippines' richest man, Henry Sy.
"Sting can't be saving rainforests and enabling SM to rape the environment at the same time!" environmentalists said in their petition.
Sting established The Rainforest Foundation in 1989, together with his wife, to protect tropical rainforests and the local residents.
"With this successful move to stop Sting from holding the concert at SM MOA Arena, and referring to the venue as an ‘oppressor’, it is now looking more like the court battle has extended from saving trees, to ruining a corporate giant's reputation completely," the arena said in its statement.
Arena business manager Arnel Gonzales told AP that the venue became "collateral damage" in the environmentalists' campaign.
A local court has temporarily stopped the mall expansion plans in northern Baguio City.
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