The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has committed to fully supporting the tree-planting component of the recently launched “PagbaBAGo: A Million Learners and Trees” program of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DedEd).

The five-year program aims to provide students with one million bags containing school supplies and dental kits, planting one million trees for environmental sustainability, and promoting family planning among parents.

Vice President Sara Duterte kicked off the program at the Mandaue City Sports Complex on May 27. Simultaneous tree planting activities were also held across 11 regions in the country in support of the program’s aim to plant one million trees by 2028.

A total of 7,800 trees were planted during the program launch, with the DENR providing most of the seedlings used for the nationwide activity.

Almost 7,500 of the planted trees were in the Zamboanga Peninsula, with 5,000 of the planted species are mangroves. In the other regions, seedlings were turned over in ceremonial activities marking the launch of the program, as the actual tree planting were scheduled at a later date due to El Niño occurrence.

Along with the turnover and distribution of seedlings from the DENR, bags with school supplies and dental kits for students were distributed by the DepEd to elementary students.

The DENR’s participation in the program is covered by a memorandum of agreement (MOA) it entered into with the OVP and DepEd, with the OVP taking the lead in monitoring its implementation. It is also the OVP’s form of participation in the government’s National Greening Program (NGP).

Under the MOA, the OVP will provide logistical support and resources including procurement of seedlings necessary for the planting, maintenance and protection of the trees.

The DepEd, on the other hand, will identify potential planting sites within school premises, provide the warm bodies during planting, and promote national awareness among students on the importance of NGP.

Meanwhile, the DENR—through its regional and field offices—will assist in the identification of suitable sites and appropriate species for planting activities. It may also engage the service or participation of people’s organizations or the community to aid in the production of seedlings and other planting materials, as well as in protecting seedlings planted outside school premises.

The MOA will remain in effect until June 30, 2028, or until the program’s objectives have been met.

Aside from Cebu and Zamboanga provinces, kickoff activities were also held in the cities of Manila, Dagupan, Lipa, Legazpi, Bacolod, Tacloban and Davao; Santo Tomas town in Isabela province; and Caraga region. #