South Cotabato launches ‘armchairs for trees’ project

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 July) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is targeting to plant at least 150,000 trees in various parts of the province this year through its newly-launched “armchairs for trees” project.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said Tuesday they have tied up with a non-government organization and two other local companies for a joint initiative that will provide additional armchairs for local schools and at the same time help rehabilitate the province’s denuded forests.

Under the scheme, he said they will produce at least 15,000 armchairs until the end of the year and distribute them to various schools in the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

The beneficiaries will then be required to plant at least 10 trees in their respective areas in exchange for every armchair that they will receive, he said.

“This will mainly address our armchair shortfall for this school year and also help promote among the beneficiaries the value of giving back to our environment through the planting of trees,” Pingoy said.

The governor said the production of the armchairs will be mainly shouldered by the provincial government.

The other project costs would be financed by its partners Mahintana Foundation and fruit giant Dole Philippines Inc. based in Polomolok town and Tampakan-based copper and gold miner Sagittarius Mines Inc.

Aside from the said scheme, Pingoy said they have also forged an agreement with the Department of Education and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the manufacture and distribution of additional chairs and tables for local public schools using the illegally-cut forest products that were earlier confiscated in the area.

The governor said they will initially utilize the close to 13,000 board feet of illegally-cut logs that were seized last May 11 in Lake Sebu town.

“Based on our agreement with DeoEd, the beneficiaries will be required to plant at least 10 trees for each table and chair that they will get,” Pingoy said.

The DENR forfeited last month in favor of the government the seized forest products after its alleged owner failed to appear before an administrative hearing called by the agency.

Joint operatives from the DENR, South Cotabato Provincial Environment Management Office and the provincial police command on May 11 seized 12,987.74 board feet of illegally cut logs, estimated to have a market value of P467,532  in Barangay Tasiman in Lake Sebu town.

The logs, which were composed of naturally-grown trees such as nato, tanguile and white lauan, were reportedly taken from the Allah Valley Watershed Reservation and Protected Area.

The seized logs were reportedly owned by a certain Alas Kandadao, who is currently facing charges for alleged violation the Revised Forestry Code and the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)