The recent move of a telecommunications network to equip people’s organizations involved in the National Greening Program (NGP) with mobile technology has earned praises from the environment department.

“We are definitely elated by this move of Globe Telecom to enhance the connectivity of people’s organizations, who are situated in far-flung areas, with the DENR and other NGP partners with the use of mobile phones,” Paje said.

While the use of cell phones has grown to become a very important and pervasive communication tool, Paje said “we have yet to fully harness the potential of mobile technology in bridging upland communities with the mainstream society in our quest for sustainable development”.

On Tuesday (May 15), Globe Telecoms and the Foundation for Philippine Environment (FPE) have entered into a partnership where the former would donate mobile phones and SIM cards to 380 people’s organizations, including indigenous peoples groups, as well as to 88 non-government organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders engaged by FPE in the production of seedlings for the NGP.

Prior to this, in February this year, the FPE, along with the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation, Inc (PTFCF), has signed a five-year agreement with the DENR for the production of seedlings using indigenous tree species for the greening program.

Both FPE and PTFC are into promoting the concept of “rainforestation” -- a concept that puts emphasis on using indigenous species for reforestation instead of fast-growing, non-endemic species.

Aside from the mobile phones and Globe SIM cards with special discounted rates, the telecom company will also be providing the participating POs and NGOs with a P5,000 monthly Text Connect facility for efficient and real-time monitoring of their activities.

It is also committed to provide free internet connection, allow use of laptops, and give free calls during critical project activities participated in by the organizations.

“One of the pillars of Globe Bridging Communities is iConserve, where we show active corporate citizenship in the protection, rehabilitation, and conservation of critical environmental areas in the Philippines, just like what NGP is doing to mitigate the destruction of the country;s natural resources. Through this partnership, we hope to provide the critical enabling technologies to help FPE see through its support mandate to the implementing community-based partners and local stakeholders,” said Rob I. Nazal, Globe’s head for corporate social responsibility.

Nazal also said that aside from the technology support, Globe will also assist the indigenous communities in opening mobile bank accounts through BPI-Globe BanKO Partners Outlets nationwide. “We will be providing subsidy on ATM costs to enable them to avail of the banking service,” he said, adding that BPI-Globe BanKO will be used to facilitate payment of service fees to the indigenous people beneficiaries.

For his part, FPE chief executive officer lawyer Danny Valenzuela expressed optimism in the partnership. “We are glad to be working with Globe Telecom in seeing through our commitment to help our network of NGOs towards contributing to the NGP,” he said.

Valenzuela also stressed that “ICT, particularly the mobile technology that Globe is offering, is a critical tool for the IPs to be actively engaged, for service payment and advisory support to be efficient, and for the program’s overall monitoring, reporting and evaluation systems to happen in real time.”

Meanwhile, DENR Assistant Secretary Marlo Mendoza said the NGP is the biggest greening program ever embarked by the government as it seeks to plant 1.5 billion seedlings in 1.5 million hectares nationwide in six-year period, starting last year up to 2016.

Launched in May last year by President Aquino, Mendoza reported of successful implementation of the program in its initial year, with more than 128,500 hectares of upland areas planted with around 89.6 million tree seedlings by more than 700,000 participants.

For this year, Mendoza said the government is targeting to hit 200,000 hectares of new plantations, requiring some 114 million seedlings, of which 14 million would constitute native tree species, such as acacia, mayapis, molave, tindalo, toog, and teak, to name a few.