Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Friday said ‘plantreetos and plantreetas’ should be tapped by the government for its P5-billion reforestation program next year.
He said mobilizing “plantreetos and plantreetas” could shield the proposed budget of the government’s tree-planting drive from wastage and delays.
He said this was just one of his proposals “to mainstream” the National Greening Project, which had cost taxpayers P42.1 billion since 2011.
“This is one program which, like a sapling, should not be hidden under the canopy of tall trees. At a time when pandemic-hit people on the ground are looking for income, this can be part of the government livelihood menus,” Recto said.
He recommended that NGP’s implementing agency, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, begin by posting in town plazas details of the NGP projects.
“It can also partner with local governments willing to provide financial or ‘sweat’ equity,” Recto said.
The NGP has a budget of P3.15 billion this year, but will be raised to P5.15 billion under Malacañang’s proposed 2021 national budget.
The amount will be used to produce 72.9 million seedlings for planting on 82,349 hectares of new forest plantations and in existing ones, the DENR said in a briefer for its proposed P25.5-billion agency budget for 2021.
Recto said the DENR had spent P42.1 billion on NGP from 2011 to 2020.
The agency ended 2019 having planted 1.807 billion trees in 2.141 million hectares of land over 10 years.
“On paper, it is impressive because 2 million hectares of land reforested represents 1 in 15 hectares of the land in this country. Two million hectares is 32 times Metro Manila’s land area,” Recto said.
He urged the DENR to show proof of its achievements.
“Instead of counting the trees planted, it must show us the forests and invite people to sit under the shade of the hundreds of millions of trees it had planted. This is the ‘proof of life’ the people deserve to see.”