ROUGH CUTS| A new Mindanao forest? Let’s wait

SO THE JOINT efforts of the Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional offices in the island to undertake a massive one-day tree planting activity last September 26, 2014 has finally paid off?

     The tree planting effort conducted all over the southern Philippine island initiated by the two government agencies and supported by both the public and private sectors, was able to mobilize some 122,186 volunteers who planted some 2,294,629 seedlings ranging from hardwood tree varieties to fruit bearing species.  There were a total of 29 locations all over Mindanao.

     The figures were submitted by the project movers to the World Guinness Book of Records, and according to DENR Region XI executive director  Joselin Marcus Fragada, he received the communication from Guinness last Monday advising the organizers that the project’s total number of seedlings planted made it to a world-breaking record which until the entry of the TreeVolution from Mindanao, was held by India.

     We congratulate the project organizers and all those who participated in the gargantuan effort. Imagine how large an area would be home to second growth forest when the trees grow to their adult years!

     We are setting aside our doubt on the veracity of the total number of planted seedlings despite the fact that we have no idea if indeed the Guinness really validated the figure by counting each and every tree planted.

     What we are eagerly looking forward to is the real greening of the areas reportedly planted, say after five years. We are very well aware that if seedlings are taken care of by the community they can grow as tall as 20 to 25 feet tall by then.

     But do the DENR and the MINDA have the mechanism to engage the people in the community as well as the volunteers to really ensure that the newly planted seedlings will survive? If such mechanism is not clearly established, a serious inventory to be conducted even these days will reveal that the survival rate may not even reach 50 percent.

     We learned from a DENR insider that a budget of so much (less?) is being set aside for the maintenance of the trees annually for the first three years. The question now is, how will such budget be utilized to the maximum given its apparently very minimal amount?

–ooOoo–

     We are happy to learn that the Cebu-based conglomerate Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV), Inc. is a partner of the Manila-based company that offered to produce for and deliver bulk water supply to the Davao City Water District.

     Initially we had been writing about the proposed project and cautioning the people and the local regulators to be vigilant against possibilities that some processes will be done through the “short cuts”.

After learning that AEV is a partner we can say that Davaoenos and our regulators can stay relaxed without necessarily being complacent.

     We know AEV for a long time. It has a reputation of being a socially responsible corporate citizen built not just overnight but through generations.

     Thus, it is very unlikely that it will allow its other partner or the new company that will come out of the partnership, to undermine the trust of the people of Davao to the Aboitiz name. But of course we have to be reminded that we should not remain stuck to our character of making the sign of the cross always after the blast of lightning. Hence, there is still no substitute t vigilance.

–ooOoo–

     Now that the National Commission for the Indigenous People (NCIP) has admitted that the selection of Halila Sudagar as the Lumad’s permanent representative to the city council did not follow tradition what is holding the councilors from asking the NCIP to undertake another selection process? Or, if not what’s delaying them from recommending the re-appointment of Berino Mambuo to his old post in the Sanggunian?

     The longer the honorable councilors delay their action the more the lumads are deprived of representation in the local lawmaking body. Isn’t it unfair?

Posted in Opinion