DENR is serious with NGP

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By Rox Peña

E-ssue

Thursday, February 13, 2014


A TOP official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was axed after he failed to meet his target in the agency’s National Greening Program (NGP). The NGP is a major project which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of public lands for six years starting 2011 up to 2016.

It seems that planting alone is not the ultimate measure of the project’s success. In fact, based on the project update posted in the NGP website, DENR even exceeded its annual target on the areas to be planted. The equally important gauge is the survival of the seedlings. The relieved official got a very low survival rate in his area, according to the information I got. I heard that an investigation of field officials will be conducted to find out what happened.

This drastic move of the DENR’s top management shows that the agency is serious in implementing the NGP. With only two years and four months before the end of President Noynoy Aquino’s term, they have to show solid accomplishment.

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DENR cannot plant 1.5 billion trees all by themselves. So how do you mobilize the citizenry to accomplish this gargantuan task? One solution that I thought of is to implement Section 8 of Republic Act 10176, or the Arbor Day Act of 2012, which requires all able-bodied citizens who are at least twelve (12) years of age, to plant one (1) tree every year.

The DENR can identify planting sites and provide the seedlings. It can then facilitate the planting activities of schools, agencies of government, local government units and private companies. In turn, DENR will issue certificates of completion to tree planters. This certificate can be made a requirement in securing public documents such as business permits, marriage license, etc. During my college days, tree planting is a requisite for graduation.

The DENR can also partner with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in enforcing section 4 of RA 10176 which requires all provinces, cities and municipalities with their component barangays to declare an Arbor Day or Tree Planting Day by appropriate proclamation of local chief executives through an ordinance passed by the respective local sanggunian. It shall be at a fixed date every calendar year as shall be deemed conducive to the proper tune and season for planting trees in the locality.

I am currently drafting the Environmental Code of Mabalacat City and I included these important provisions of RA 10176 in the ordinance.

* * *

Today is Valentine’s Day. How do you make this red day green? You can give her organic flowers, organic wine or handmade greeting cards made out of recycled paper. It will take some effort to look for these items but I’m sure they will be appreciated by your loved one.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on February 14, 2014.

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