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PIA Press Release
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

 

DENR inks greening agreement with ARMM

by Eric Herzon F. Gallego

BUTUAN CITY, Jan. 10 (PIA) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have joined hands in the reforestation of some 2,500 hectares of denuded and open forest lands in the region under the National Greening Program of President Benigno S. Aquino.

“This collaboration sets a critical milestone in ecological governance for the region and bodes well for addressing the social and economic challenges which the region undoubtedly faces,” Paje said following the signing of an agreement with ARMM Gov. Mujiv S. Hataman in a simple ceremony held at the DENR Central Office in Quezon City on Monday.

“The NGP collaboration between ARMM and the DENR was in compliance with President Aquino’s instruction to assist in the management of the region’s natural wealth, particularly its forest-based resources which he “considered as its foremost natural asset as yet,” Paje said.

Secretary Paje committed some P49.6 million in financial assistance to enable the ARMM government to carry out a massive tree planting program within its five provinces, to include Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.

Aside from financial assistance, the DENR shall also provide ARMM with technical assistance and ensure the timely provision of funds based on the approved work and financial program of ARMM.

“The fuel that powers ARMM’s economic engine is resource-based and we in the national government will assist our brothers and sisters in ARMM in the resource management of the region,” Paje said, adding that he plans to send his key senior officials there “for us to gain a front seat view of how resource management is undertaken there and how we can contribute in improving it.”

For his part, ARMM Gov. Hataman said the MOA signing marks his first collaborative undertaking with the national government.

“Typhoon Sendong struck exactly two days after I assumed office,” Hataman said, noting that NGP is now a major tool he can use in addressing illegal logging in ARMM since the program offers alternative livelihood to forest-based communities that are usually enticed to engage in illegal logging activities due to lack of livelihood opportunities in the uplands.

Hataman said priority will be given to upstream areas inside ARMM where the NGP activities will be implemented with guidance from the DENR-national government.

“Pipilitin naming maipatupad ang lahat ng expectations ni President Aquino for ARMM (We will implement all the expectations of President Aquino for ARMM),” Hataman stressed, noting that he already received “verbal commitments” from rebel groups involved in the peace negotiation to help in stopping illegal logging in ARMM and in the NGP implementation.

Under the agreement, ARMM will implement the NGP according to the guidelines set by the DENR central office. It shall also allow DENR personnel that will be designated to monitor and evaluate ARMM's implementation, including its financial management and utilization.(DENR-13/PIA-Caraga)

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