DENR-12 allots P7M for reforestation of 3 Maguindanao, SouthCot upland villages

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 16 April) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12 has allotted around P7 million for the reforestation of three upland villages in Maguindanao and South Cotabato.

Datu Tungko Saikol, DENR Region 12 executive director, said the initiative is part of the expansion this year of its continuing reforestation project under the national government’s Sajahatra Bangsamoro program.

He said they have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with implementers of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro for the launching of the greening activities within this month in barangays Buliok in Pagalungan town and Sambulawan in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao, as well as in Sitio B’lungan, Barangay Upper Sepaka in Surallah, South Cotabato.

The official said the three villages had been identified as priority expansion areas of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro.

Under the MOA, he said the agency will specifically include the three villages in its coverage area for the National Greening Program (NGP).

“We will be planting coffee, fruit and forest trees in around 300 hectares of forest lands in these areas,” Saikol said in a statement.

He said the P7-million allotment will cover for the seedling production, plantation establishment and the monitoring, maintenance and protection of the reforestation sites.

Saikol said the agency will partner with people’s organizations based in the three villages for the implementation of the greening projects, which are due for completion by December 2017.

Dr. Taugan Kikay, Sajahatra Bangsamoro project management team leader, lauded the expansion of the greening program in the three villages.

He said they’re hoping that the program will usher in more opportunities in terms of the development of idle upland areas within Bangsamoro communities.

“This project complements with our efforts to bring sustainable livelihood opportunities to our marginalized communities and eventually improve the lives of residents,” he said.

Sajahatra Bangsamoro is a joint undertaking of the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that aims to uplift and develop Bangsamoro communities.

It covers initiatives on education, health and livelihood through scholarship grants, assistance to madaris, issuance of Philhealth cards, basic health care services, livelihood projects and cash for work.

Launched in February 2013, the program is a product of talks between President Benigno S. Aquino III and MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim immediately after the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.