Paje appeals for a more environment-friendly summer, Holy Week

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje is once again urging the public to be conscious of their carbon footprint as they engage in various activities this summer season.

The season also marks the Holy Week break, when Filipinos are able to spend more time with their families and loved ones whether in the provinces or taking vacation trips elsewhere. 

“Filipinos, largely Christians by religion, traditionally use this time to atone for their sins. Religious beliefs aside, let us be sorry about our actions that may have contributed to the degradation of our environment. And since reparation comes with atonement, let us then use the time to care for and cultivate God’s creation to make up for our ‘sins’,” he said.

Paje also said that the summer vacation is “a good time to encourage students to put science to work, especially those that relate to the care of the environment.”  

In Friday’s First Consultative Meeting on the National Greening Program (NGP), the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education have committed to mobilize students in various activities of NGP such as tree planting, seedling production and waste segregation at source.  For this, Paje, who is a forester by profession, is urging everyone, especially the students, to start collecting seeds of fruits they consume, and may even try to plant them in pots or empty cans and nurture them until they are ready for transplanting come the rainy season.

The NGP, which the DENR is mandated to lead the implementation of, along with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform,  aims to plant a billion and a half trees in 1.5 million hectares over a six-year period. 

For Holy Week and the rest of the summer vacation, the environment chief gives the following pointers to reduce one’s carbon footprint:

  • Motorists should make sure their vehicles are well-maintained to be more fuel-efficient and thus minimize air pollution, which is usually aggravated by the dry weather. Better yet, get involved in hiking or biking activities that promote better human and environmental health.
  • Practice solid waste management by recycling or reducing waste, as well as bringing reusable bags and containers when going to markets or supermarkets. Dispose of garbage properly, and avoid throwing litter especially in beaches, rivers and other water bodies.  Also, minimize the use of plastic bags.
  • Encourage neighbors to engage in cleaning up surroundings like declogging of storm drainage in preparation for the rainy season.
  • Avoid wasteful consumption of resources especially paper, water and electricity.
The DENR secretary also reminded the vacationers to take care in disturbing the conditions of flora and fauna especially in eco-tourism spots. “Environmentalists believe in and practice the saying, ‘Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.’ This is what we need to observe to make sure that future generations will still enjoy what we are enjoying now,” said Paje. 


Paje rallies gov’t agencies, private sector to meet objective of National Greening Program

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje urged the people to rally to President Aquino’s call to reforest the entire country through the National Greening Program (NGP.) 

Paje made this pitch on Friday (April 14, 2011) at the opening of the 1st Consultative Summit for the NGP at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) central office in Quezon City.

He said NGP, which was formalized in Executive Order (EO) No. 26, mandates the planting of 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of public lands from 2011 to 2016.

Paje stressed EO 26 is an important element in the country’s strategic campaign to insulate itself from the ravages of climate change and it comes in the heels of EO 23, which bans logging in natural and residual forests.

The DENR chief noted that it is the first time in the country’s history that Malacanang had ordered a sustained campaign to restore the integrity of forests by planting tree species that check soil erosion, protect watersheds and sequester carbon dioxide.

Paje said the summit was organized to achieve a consensus among stakeholders on how to proceed with the reforestation program, particularly among frontline departments like DENR, Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Education (DepED), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD), including the Commission on Higher Education and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

Paje said NGP is actually a legacy to Filipino children and the succeeding generations that would profit from the sustained reforestation program.

“On behalf of our President and our colleagues in the Cabinet, may I thank you for your abiding trust and active participation in this consultative summit. Indeed, we are working for progressive change in the way we do things and relate to our country, our home, and to each other – supportive and one with the dreams and aspirations of our leadership and our people. They who are our real bosses,” Paje said. 

“In my experience, I have seen our country continue to come to grips with its own finite resources, its own limits at healing itself, considering what our people require of it, demand of it today.  As we all move into breaking the 100-million population level very soon, we must begin to realize our responsibility as stewards of our country for our children’s use.  If we do not do something now, as responsible stewards, it may be too late to reverse some of the bad things happening to our country today,” the DENR chief said.

“Each one of us can only be one of two things in this arena: either be a responsible steward or an irresponsible user.  Irresponsible use may just be what will break the proverbial camel’s back. Our collective experience shows us that times have been hard for those who would try to protect our environment, keep it safe and even enrich it for the future of our children,” Paje noted.  

The summit tackled the mechanics of the NGP, specifically how it could utilize the energies of millions of people in planting 1.5 billion trees in a span of 5 years, raise the people’s awareness on the necessity of reforestation, and make stakeholders monitor and safeguard the success of the program diligently.

He said UP at Los Banos and its College of Development Communication are at the forefront of the NGP’s information, education and communication (IEC) campaign and all the inputs gathered during the summit will help craft a viable and sustainable NGP. The participants also signed a resolution on the NGP, and declared their commitment to “promote the program and help organize our respective official communities and the Filipino people to mobilize and act in earnest to achieve NGP’s objectives.” 

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