Saturday, July 18, 2009

Architect nixes bail vs SBMA libel case

By Allison Lopez - Philippine Daily Inquirer

Renowned architect Felino "Jun" Palafox Jr. has vowed not to post P10,000 bail for a libel suit filed by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) over a tree-cutting controversy.

Palafox, who is waiting to be served his warrant of arrest by an Olongapo court, said in a text message received by the Philippine Daily that he donated the bail money to the Divine Word missionary group.

"After due discernment and consultation with my family, spiritual advisers, religious, business, academic, environmental, civic groups, I have decided not to post bail as a show of protest for the injustice, unfairness, persecution, discrimination and harassment against me in the libel case filed by SBMA officials in Olongapo," said the Makati-basedurban planner.

Palafox, however, declined to give interviews to media upon the advice of his lawyer.

In late 2008, Palafox exposed the planned razing of an urban forest at the Subic Bay Freeport to pave way for a Korean-owned hotel-casino.

Bidding for consultancy in the proposed Ocean 9 Casino-Hotel project, Palafox had said his company got out of the project because more than 300 trees, some of them "centuries old," in the project site would be cut.

He also claimed that an SBMA executive asked his [Palafox's] firm for an 18-percent commission in exchange for the official getting them on the short list of bidders for a previous project updating the free port's master development plan.

SBMA administrator Armand Arreza, meanwhile, said no centuries-old trees were cut and demanded that Palafox prove his allegations of extortion.

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