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PIA Press Release

PGMA unveils ambitious environment agenda in updated development plan

Manila (13 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo unveiled this morning the environment agenda of the Medium-Term Development Plan (MTDP) which she said the Cabinet approved for updating last Tuesday.

The President disclosed the agenda during the signing of the memorandum of agreement among four groups – including Toyota Motor Corporation – for the reforestation of the northernmost tip of the Sierra Madre mountain range in Peñablanca, Cagayan.

In the MOU signing ceremonies, the President lauded Toyota Motor Corporation for funding the six-year $3-million reforestation project as she recalled that five years earlier in 2002, she had signed Proclamation 484 expanding the Penablanca protected landscape from 4,130 hectares to 118,782 hectares to include the surrounding seascape.

"We are determined to conserve the Sierra Madre Mountain range. It constitutes the largest remaining block of natural rainforest in the Philippines," assured the President who witnessed the MOU signing between Toyota and Conservation International, the NGO that will reforest the 2,500 hectares of denuded Sierra Madre slopes.

The MOU was also signed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which "shall facilitate project implementation to make sure there are no hindrances to full success"; and the local government of Penablanca.

The President said the launching of the reforestation project was a "great time" as she revealed the launching two days earlier last Tuesday of the updating of the country's Medium-Term Development Plan (MTDP).

"And there is no better audience than this distinguished group with which to restate our environment agenda for the year 2007 and beyond – the main skeletal structure of what will be the chapter on the environment," she said.

"Our vision is that we will take our place alongside other modernized nations in 20 years," she added.

The President revealed that she wants to press ahead with the massive Green Philippines Environmental Plan that is "comprehensive in scope and through in execution…"

President Arroyo said the plan includes four areas namely, reforestation; scrubbing the land and air of pollutants that endanger the health of our citizens; energy independence; and preservation of reefs and waterways and wildlife.

"Part of a bright new future for our nation is to control our over reliance on energy. To become free from overdependence on foreign oil and become more self-sufficient through the use of sustainable, alternative forms of energy, we can harness our sun, wind and geothermal resource, and produce our own clean fuels through biofuels, and not overly rely on foreign suppliers," she pointed out.

The President stressed that "investing in vital infrastructure includes not just building up new steel structure that will endure, but to tear down those old and unreliable buildings and bridges that are no longer safe and operational."

"And we must also build up our environment as a reflection of our commitment to our quality of life – people need to breathe clean air and swim in clean water while we also build manufacturing and bridges to span our waters. This will enhance our national security, lift up our economy, and preserve our environment," she said. (PIA) [top]

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