Tree planting eyed mandatory

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Friday, August 22, 2014


TREE planting must not be a prerequisite to the issuance of marriage certificate nor a requirement for graduation.

These concerns were raised during the public hearing of the proposed Environment Code of Baguio City held Wednesday.

The newly injected provision Mandatory Pine Tree Planting, presented by City Environment and Parks Management officer Coleen Lacsamana, provides planting to be a prerequisite before the issuance of marriage license and a prerequisite to graduation.

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Article 40 Section 23 of the code states: "Marriage license shall not be issued unless the couple intending to marry has planted at least one tree at a place designated by (City Environment and Parks Management Office) CEPMO."

"CEPMO will supervise the planting of trees and shall certify thereafter to the Office of the Civil Registrar that this provision had been complied with, which certification shall be a pre-requisite before marriage license shall be issued," it added.

Former councilor Erdolfo Balajadia, one of the first proponents of the code, was surprised with the newly introduced provision saying the proposed provision is against the law.

"You will be adding a requirement that is not required by the law," he stressed explaining no national law mandates tree planting before issuance of marriage license.

Committee on Health and Sanitation, Ecology and Environmental Protection chairman councilor Fred Bagbagen seconded this saying, "In a legal point of view, this will be contrary to civil law."

He added it cannot be mandatory in this case but suggested for tree planting to be a voluntary option for couples who might want to have a significant tree which will symbolize their unity instead.

Meanwhile, Section 24 of the same article of the proposed code provides: "Schools shall be encouraged to partner with the city government in this endeavor through a Memorandum of Agreement," before it will be required to plant a tree as prerequisite for graduation at tertiary level.

Former University of Baguio president Virgilio Bautista reminded CEPMO the Commission on Higher Education sets requirements for graduation.

Even with a MOA entered between the city government and an educational institution, he emphasized the city government cannot just require tree planting as a prerequisite without the agency's authorization.

Furthermore, he noted with the population of graduating students every year in the city, he doubts there will be enough space to accommodate trees they will plant as it has been the problem of most schools wanting to include tree planting as an activity under their National Service Training Program (NSTP).

He recommended the provision must not only mandate merely tree planting but should also include nurturing of newly planted seedlings, protecting and rehabilitating what is left of the forests, watershed and other green areas in the city.

Lacsamana revealed there will be no enough space within the Summer Capital if all graduating students every school year will be required to plant trees.

Moreover, she told the public comments are well taken and will be considered by the technical working group of the proposed code.

"The proposed code will still be open for improvement," she closed assuring the comments will be considered and will be studied by the technical working group of the Environment Code.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 23, 2014.

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