Two months after President Benigno Aquino III had signed Executive Order 26, the national government officially launched today the said EO, also known as the National Greening Program (NGP).
The launching saw a series of activities that marked the relevance of this project in Philippine history and in the lives of Filipinos.
President Aquino himself graced the program which was held this morning at the Social Hall of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) main office in Quezon City.
During the first part of the event, DENR Undersecretary for Policy and Planning gave an overview of the forest situation of the country, with the Philippines ranking 63rd out of the 233 countries in terms of size of forest, ranking only higher to Singapore and Hong Kong, but way lower compared to its Asian counterparts.
The greening program aims to improve the forest cover of the country, covering 1.5 million hectares and growing 1.5 billion trees in five years.
DENR Secretary Ramon Paje on the second part of the program explained the greening initiative stating that the project aims to see results, emphasizing the benefits the Filipinos would reap as the NGP takes full effect and is implemented well with the objectives met.
He said that being a convergence initiative of the three departments of government (DENR, Department of Agriculture and Department of Agrarian Reform) together with other partner agencies and private partners, the NGP is not only a reforestation program but is a development program aimed at poverty alleviation, hunger management through food production, employment and livelihood generation, and disaster mitigation — all of which are for the achievement of national development.
Sec. Paje also underscored the program as one that observes utmost transparency as the funds allotted for the project will be used solely for it, with the regular auditing by the Commission on Audit.
The launching of the NGP website also took place with highlights on its main features which include online browsing of areas to be reforested through sattelite images. Another feature is the online registration of those who would want to plant trees in support of the NGP.
President Aquino’s online registration marked the website (www.ngp.denr.gov.ph) as the official website of the NGP. The President, as with all those who will register at the website, will receive a bar-coded certificate of acknowledgment for active participation in the project.
The NGP launching also served as venue for the awarding of plaques of recognition and scholarship to families of DENR and non-DENR personnel who died in line of duty and in pursuit of full service to the country. The recognition is known as the Environmental Heroes Award.
Lastly, President Aquino delivered his speech for this government greening initiative which is also a response to the dwindling forest cover in the country and as a solution to a serious concern that the Philippined is facing through these years.
The NGP, according to him, serves as rhe “grain of hope” to Mother Nature, and that everything could be turned back to the way it was.
The recent calamity in Bicol and the previous flash floods, landslides, typhoon, etc in the country are due to lack of trees.
EO 26 is a solution to these problems — lessening pollution from greenhouse, improvement and revival of watershed, mangroves, and ecosystem in the country which are all aimed at enriching biodiversity.
The President added that 50 percent of the trees planted in five years time will be for sustainable management of forests while the other half is for crop industry and for food supply.
With the support and social mobilization of stakeholders and the public including high school and college students and government employees, the National Greening Program is a legacy to the next generation of Filipinos and one intervention to achieve national progress.
The program ended with the President’s planting of a narra tree at the DENR Heroes Park.
After the launching, the National Greening Program is expected to see full action and be implemented in full force — with the desired result of reforesting 1.5 million hectares of forest and growing of 1.5 billion trees by 2016.