With the onset of the rainy season, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje makes a pitch to the public to start planting trees and other crops in line with the National Greening Program.
“Arbor Day is celebrated in the Philippines every June 25, but with 8 million hectares of the country’s forestland open and degraded, let’s make every day an Arbor Day,” Paje said.
Relative to this, Paje announced that some 250 volunteers will undertake a two-kilometer trek into the hills of the Ipo watershed in Norzagaray, Bulacan to plant some 2,500 narra and cupang tree seedlings in the observance of the Philippine Arbor Day.
“Now more than ever, Arbor day celebration will take on a deeper and more significant meaning to every nature-loving Filipino and like-minded organizations in the country as the effort to win back the country’s forests has been launched under the mantle of the National Greening Program (NGP),” Paje stressed, noting that declaration of 2011 as the International Year of Forests and June being the Philippine Environment Month “accentuates the centrality of NGP’s objective to the administration’s pursuit of a clean and viable environment for Filipinos.”
The environment chief underscored the timeliness of tree planting, given the high precipitation currently prevailing generally in the country, thus calling on the public to take this advantage and plant trees .
“It behooves all nature-loving Filipinos to observe Arbor Day every day, and this call becomes even more compelling for all of us considering that the prevailing weather conditions in most parts of the country allow for this very important civic duty,” Paje stressed.
President Benigno S. Aquino III launched last month the National Greening Progra at the DENR in Quezon City. NGP seeks to transform some 1.5 million hectares of open and denuded areas into verdant hills and mountains with at least 1.5 billion trees, until the end of his term in 2016.
Spearheaded by three convergence agencies, namely the Departments of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform and the DENR, Paje also said the program has the full support of the entire Cabinet, notably the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) which have already committed to mobilize students to plant at least 10 seedlings per student per year.
Aside from the students, all employees of the government, including government-owned and controlled corporations and local government units, are required to plant the same number of seedlings annually.
Paje said the participation of Agriculture Secretary Prospero Alcala and Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes and their employees in the tree planting activities in Ipo watershed is to send a message of the new face of Philippine greening program which is anchored on the principle of convergence as exemplified in NGP’s implementation through the Convergence Initiative of the three agencies.
The DENR has likewise secured the services of organizations that have a direct stake in the forest cover of the Ipo watershed, namely the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, Maynilad Water Services, Inc., and the Manila Water Company, Inc.
Paje will lead some 75 DENR employees in the trek with 50 each from DA and DAR led by Alcala and Delos Reyes, respectively, while MWSS, Manila Water, and Maynilad will each field 50 warm bodies for the activity.
Paje said all of them will plant 10 seedlings each in compliance to the NGP which require at least 10 seedlings planted by every volunteer under the program.
The Ipo watershed is home to the Ipo Dam which serves as the transbasin and reservoir for water coming from Angat watershed and those coming from Ipo watershed itself. The water is then released to La Mesa Dam for processing into potable water for distribution to Metro Manila residents. -30- PAO, DENR