No tree planting = no wedding, baptism, burial in Iloilo
It’s something to ponder for Catholic couples wanting to tie the knot in Iloilo province, thanks to the intervention of bishops and government officials.
The Archdiocese of Jaro and the provincial government of Iloilo have signed an agreement requiring couples getting married, families of the departed as well as parents and guardians of candidates for baptism to plant trees before they can undergo a Catholic rite, according to a news release posted on the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
The archdiocese and the local government intend to reforest hectares of land denuded by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in 2013.
“Prior to the signing of this agreement, some of our priests were already requiring marrying couples to plant trees before their wedding,” Msgr. Higinio Velarde, representing Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, said during the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) on April 22.
Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. and Director Jim Sampulna of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Western Visayas were also signatories to the deal.
Velarde said it was important to the Jaro Archbishop that the agreement be implemented.
Velarde acknowledged the threats posed by the effects of climate change, after the uprooting of thousands of trees in the province—including century-old ones—by Yolanda.
He called on the Iloilo faithful to act now before it is too late.
‘Tree Park of Life’
A place called “Tree Park of Life” will be the designated area in each municipality for planting trees.
Defensor, for his part, said there will be implementing rules and regulations on the number of trees to be planted.
“This MOA is still subject for review and ratification by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Before we finalize everything, we have to make sure that everything is provided by the law,” he said.
He said a provincial ordinance may be necessary to ensure the sustainability of the projects provided under the MOA.
“You know how important a tree is. Mankind has invented a lot of things but no one has created a tree. Only God can. If you will abuse and disregard our environment, nothing will be left for the future,” Defensor said.
The DENR welcomed the project, saying the partnership between the Church and the government will support the National Greening Program for poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
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