Banker proposes a hectare of trees for every hectare of agri plantation

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/29 December) – A local rural bank executive here has vowed to come-up with a proposal that would require owners of fruit plantations to plant a hectare (ha) of trees for every ha of agricultural plantation as part of measures for environmental protection.

Estelito Marabe, president of D’ Asian Hills Bank, told the recent candidates’ forum organized by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Bukidnon chapter that he respects the moratorium on the expansion of agricultural plantations in the city.

Marabe was one of the three mayoralty bets invited by IBP-Bukidnon to attend the forum that also served as the group’s Christmas party. The two other contenders, Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri and Vice Mayor Victor Aldeguer, skipped the event due to prior commitments.

Marabe has vowed to review the moratorium policy to balance between the weight of the issue on the environment and the economy.

The Sangguniang Panlungsod of Malaybalay City unanimously approved last April 10 an urgent resolution to impose a moratorium on the expansion of fruit plantations in the city.

The resolution was approved in response to a resolution earlier passed by Malaybalay’s Association of Barangay Councils. Fruit companies questioned the moratorium but the city council said the resolution is in effect.

Marabe said he is keen on a policy that requires companies to observe a one-to-one ratio: that is for every hectare planted to banana or pineapple, another hectare should be planted to trees for environmental protection.

He admitted that many of these companies have payroll accounts with his bank, and that his family, too, leased around 12 hectares for plantations.

Marabe has vowed to make Malaybalay the “center of trade and commerce of Bukidnon,” citing the need to attract instead of just wait for investors to walk in. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)