Aquino vows cleaner air for millions of Filipinos
Do Filipinos enjoy cleaner air?
According to President Benigno Aquino III, yes.
In a speech at the 2015 congress of the Community-Based Forest Management National Greening Program (CBFM-NGP) on Wednesday, Mr. Aquino hailed the achievements of the massive reforestation project during his five-and-a-half-year administration which contributes to cleaner air in the country.
The President said 766 million seedlings in 1.2 million hectares of land had been planted, exceeding the combined 1.19 million hectares attained by the four previous administrations.
He said the million hectares where the trees have been planted could absorb 20 million tons of carbon annually. The President also said 6.8 million hectares of forest cover before the greening program started in 2011 has expanded to eight million hectares.
“This means, cleaner air for millions of our countrymen, a more lush nature, and natural resources well taken-cared of and which more people could benefit from,” Mr. Aquino asserted in Filipino.
In 2011, the President signed Executive Order No. 26 instituting the NGP, a massive reforestation program with the objective of growing 1.5 billion trees nationwide within six years.
The NGP is also designed to be a “climate change mitigation strategy as it seeks to enhance the country’s forest stock to absorb carbon dioxide, which is largely blamed for global warming,” the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.
“It is also designed to reduce poverty, providing alternative livelihood activities for marginalized upland and lowland households relating to seedling production and care and maintenance of newly-planted trees,” the DENR added.
On Wednesday, the President said the country should be able to address the cycle of climate change that begins, among others, with deforestation that leads to massive pollution and deadly flooding and landslides.
He reiterated that the Philippines has committed to reduce by 70 percent its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
He also said the participation and contribution of communities, as a component of the NGP, have helped in the Building Back Better initiative of government.
For one, he said, those who used to engage in illegal logging and slash-and-burn farming are the ones who are now campaigning against these prohibited practices.
The President said that as of October, there were only 23 illegal logging hotspots in the country from the 197 hotspots identified in 2011.
He said government has confiscated 30.71 million board feet of illegal timber and forest products, and used these to repair 388 school buildings. The confiscated logs were also used to make over 146,000 chairs and furniture for public schools, the President said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.