CALAMBA CITY–A Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) top official on Wednesday called for “social justice” where environmental programs should benefit the community.
DENR Undersecretary Demetrio L. Ignacio underscored the DENR’s battlecry on social justice as he spearheaded the launching of the DENR Calabarzon Bamboo Project and Rehabilitation of Laguna de Bay (Laguna Lake) through Sustainable Integrated Area Development (SIAD) strategy at the Lord’s Garden Foundation lakeshore in Looc village in this city.
Ignacio said under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the DENR through Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez has embarked on their SIAD strategy and program thrust on social justice or people-centric and environment-focused priority undertakings, among them the National Greening Program (NGP).
He presented the Calabarzon environment project of planting bamboo in some 2,000 hectares all over the region comprising Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon like the shorelines of the country’s largest inland lake – Laguna de Bay.
“In the past, the NGP concentrated on tree planting in the uplands, but now we are planting trees in the lowlands and this activity on planting bamboos around the Laguna Lake shores is just the start,” Ignacio said.
He also told various local government officials and multi-stakeholders here on the various uses and benefits derived from bamboo, which scientifically belongs to giant grass species that protect the environment and cleans the air.
“Bamboo is a good soil conservation plant with widespread root system that can provide an effective erosion control. It sustains the riverbanks, serves as good windbreaks and provides a natural earthquake-proof ground support,” Ignacio explained.
The DENR undersecretary also described bamboo as a versatile plant with a variety of uses ranging from subsistence to commercial food like the young shoots, to building and furniture thereby giving vital economic and ecological benefits.
He disclosed a 1997 study which showed that bamboo plantation in the country only covered some 39 to 52 thousand hectares.
But the DENR’s current thrust and target in the next six years is to plant one million hectares all over the country with PHP 7-billion budget for the NGP focusing on social justice and performance towards a pro-people and pro-environment strategy.
Ignacio also praised the DENR Calabarzon under Regional Director Arsenio N. Tanchuling who initiated the bamboo greening in the Calabarzon region, the first to launch the bamboo project in Luzon.
Laguna Lake or Laguna de Bay is one of the 29 priority areas of the DENR under the SIAD strategy to be implemented nationwide following President Duterte’s SONA directive to rehabilitate the lake’s condition from rampant fish pens, illegal structures and pollution.
Joining the launching event were regional and local government officials, partner civic groups such as Calamba Multi-sectoral Council for Sustainable Development (CALAMBENO), Serbisyong Tama-Kababaihan;
Likhang Kamay, Ugnayan ng mga Samahan ng Mamamayan at Mangingisda ng Rizal, Tambuyog Development Center, Diocese of San Pablo and University of the Philippines Los Baños.