Where are the 1.7-B trees? Recto asks amid greening program budget increase
MANILA, Philippines — Amid the nearly 100 percent proposed budget increase for the National Greening Program (NGP) for 2020, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has one question: Where are the 1.7 billion trees?
Recto posed this question amid the proposed budget increase for NGP, a program under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), from P2.6 billion to P5.15 billion.
“Budgets for health, the PGH, college scholarships are like trees being cut by chainsaws. But the one for NGP has assumed the status of a protected species,” Recto said.
The senator said that based on NGP’s P38.9 billion total budget from 2011 to 2019, a total of 1.807 billion trees in 2.141 million hectares of land should have been planted until December 2019.
From this, 1.669 billion trees should have been planted in 1.998 million hectares of land from 2011 to 2018, the senator said.
“The 1.998 million, or 2 million hectares of land reforested represents 1 in 15 hectares of the total land area of the country. 2 million hectares is 32 times Metro Manila’s land area. 2 million hectares is also 4 times the size of Cebu island,” Recto said.
“After counting the number of trees planted, it is time for the DENR to show us the forest. The carpet of green from sea to shining sea. Ilabas na ang NGP map (Show the NGP map). The proof of the planting is in the photos. Ipakita sa aerial maps, before and after photos, ang resulta ng isang P38.9 billion project (Show the aerial maps, before and after photos, the result of a P38.0 billion project),” he added.
Recto said that the reason behind low survival rate in cases of some areas should also be identified.
“Tree planting is a climate change resilience measure. It is a program that aims to boost the forest stock of our country so it can absorb carbon dioxide, while providing livelihood and enriching our biodiversity,” Recto said.
“What we have been shown so far is a forest of newsprint of reports and vouchers of spending on NGP. Show us the actual greenery,” he added.
The NGP is a government program launched in 2011 which sought to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares in six years.
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