Legarda checks on status of implementation of national greening program; urges DENR to include BARMM in NGP

November 22, 2022

Senate President Pro-Tempore Loren Legarda, during the plenary debates on the 2023 national budget, has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP) and its other measures in addressing deforestation, which was said to have caused landslides and widespread flooding during typhoons.

Senator Cynthia Villar, who sponsored the agency’s P24.084 billion proposed budget for 2023, said the DENR had planted a total of 1,855,298,000 seedlings of various indigenous species that include narra, kamagong, white lauan, mayapis, and mangroves. The survival rate of these trees, she added, is 78%.

Out of the proposed budget for 2023, P2,341,873,000 will be allocated for the NGP, in which half of the funding will be allotted for the 114 legislated protected areas, while the other half is for the existing greening program.

The funding is aggregated by 76 provinces and does not include the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Legarda then urged the DENR to work with BARMM parliament’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (MENRE) for possible collaboration on reforestation, citing the extensive damages that typhoon Paeng had left.

“With the recent devastating effects of Typhoon Paeng, we have seen a whole sitio in Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao wiped away. And it was not just water that washed them away but mudflow because of denuded forests. Nothing in the Organic Law would prohibit us from augmenting the block grant or identifying forest areas that can be reforested by the greening program by the DENR,” Legarda said.

“Perhaps, just like education which is so essential, environment sustainability and reforestation, in particular, especially in light of the disasters brought about by strong, intense typhoons, can be one of the areas where the national government can help. I am sure they would be happy as long as we do not touch their block grant and we can help them with funds from the DENR,” she added.

Legarda also reminded that the NGP’s objective is to have a community-based forest management for livelihood of people.

As former Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, she urged the DENR in 2017 to look into how the program could help the indigenous peoples and mining communities, especially in providing alternative livelihood opportunities, and encouraged the agency to look into establishing clonal nurseries in state universities and colleges (SUCs), where applicable.

She stressed that the NGP should pave the way to attaining inclusive growth and address the needs of the communities to ensure their progress.

“I understand, when this was conceptualized under the Aquino administration, it was not meant to be a reforestation program. It was supposed to be a community-based forest management program where people can earn a living,” Legarda said.

The Senate approved the DENR’s budget subject to its submission of reports on best practices for agroforestry, bamboo, mangroves, and other marine species, reforestation of native hardwood species, and the community-based livelihood generated through the NGP. (end)