MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Sting has moved the location of his "Back to Bass Tour" concert in the Philippines following a petition by environmentalists who said the original venue is owned by a conglomerate that plans to uproot 182 trees for a parking lot and mall expansion in a northern mountain city.
The SM Mall of Asia Arena said on Saturday that changing the site of the Dec. 9 concert 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, which operates SM malls and the arena on Manila Bay, is owned by the Philippines' richest man, mall mogul Henry Sy.
Environmentalists said in their petition that as a champion of the environment, "Sting can't be saving rainforests and enabling SM to rape the environment at the same time!"
Sting and his wife Trudie Styler established The Rainforest Foundation in 1989 to protect tropical rainforests and the people who live there.
Arena business manager Arnel Gonzales told The Associated Press that the venue became "collateral damage" in the environmentalists' campaign.
"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.
A local court has temporarily stopped the mall expansion plans in northern Baguio city.
Karlo Marko Altomonte, who initiated the petition, wrote Sting's foundation saying that removing the trees would significantly increase air pollution and the risk of landslides and flooding in an area near schools.
"Thank you, Sting, for helping us defend our environment, our heritage, our home," he wrote on his Facebook page.