The Philippine General Hospital project to rise in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus will not be erected in protected forest area of the UP Arboretum, rather, in an area categorized as “open parks and open spaces,” said UP vice chancellor for public affairs Elena Pernia.
This followed statements made by three members UP Board of Regents—student regent Isaac Punzalan, faculty Ramon Guillermo and staff Mylah Pedrano— who voted no to reclassifying parts of the arboretum as an “academic support zone.”
In their view, doing so would make shrink the protected area of the Arboretum to half its current size. They said: “Instead of ensuring a humane relocation and finding a long-term housing solution for the families living in the area, the BOR simply washes its hands of the matter. Now that forest will be replaced by concrete monstrosities, parking lots and fences.”
They added too that the land reserved for the hospital project may well be used for “’UP Technohub’-style commercial developments” to secure “adequate returns on investment for this public-private partnership project.”
While true that half of the Arboretum would be turned into an academic support zone, Pernia said that the hospital would not be built here.
She clarified: “The 9.58 ha comprises both open parks and spaces and protected forested areas, but the hospital will be built in the open area. Part of that area will be reclassified in the protected area; however, that is not where the hospital will be built on. The part that will be built upon by the UP-PGH will be in the upper portion which is [around] 4.2 ha, and it is not in the protected forest area. It is really cleared.”
“This will remain a protected forest area,” she added. “We are sure no mature tree will be chopped off [during construction]. We are committed to [retaining] this as a forest reserve.