Ex-Chief Justice Puno is adviser to Butuan's environmental protection, awareness project 

By Ben Serrano

      April 9, 2011


            BUTUAN CITY (PNA) - Retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno on Saturday accepted invitation of the Butuan City government through City Mayor Ferdinand Amante, Jr to be the city government’s adviser/consultant in the city’s greening project.

           The project which has been launched recently is the first of its kind among cities in the country.

            The retired Chief Magistrate was here in Butuan City Saturday together with Department of Environment and Natural Resources undersecretary Ernesto Adobo as special guests and speakers in the launching of Butuan City’s Balanghayan Grow a Million Tree Project.

          The project aimed to plant at least three million trees with at least one million tree planted per year which starts this year up to 2013 in 86 urban and rural barangays of this city. 

            At the press conference here during launching at the covered court of Barangay Bit-os, Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante, Jr announced he will recruit the former Chief Justice as legal consultant and adviser to the City’s greening project including anti-illegal logging and environmental protection drive. 

            Puno readily accepted the challenge to become adviser and consultant of the Butuan City government pro-bono.

            However, Puno advises Butuan City Government to sustain the grow a million tree project saying he wanted the project to succeed where he can see trees planted grow. 

            Puno who admitted his latest advocacy now is planting trees after retiring from the High Court said he is hoping that people will not only be active in planting trees but also continuously take care of the tree seedlings from time it were planted up to the time it can already stood by on its own to grow. 

            “The secret there is to make the community and people owned the tree planting project so that they took care of it until it will be fully grown” Puno said. 

            For his role as legal consultant in the Butuan City Government’s anti-illegal logging and environmental protection program, the former Supreme Court Chief Justice admitted it will be a tough job. 

            “The key for successful prosecution for environmental violators to pay crimes they commit is total people’s organizations, NGO and multi-sector involvement in the campaign” Puno said. 

            Puno said planting trees is mitigating measures to combat disastrous effects of climate change.

            Puno said the country’s forest cover has deteriorated over the years with only 24% in every million hectares of land covered. 

            “The ideal forest cover of the country must be 54% so nakikita ninyo napaka delkado na ang nangyayari sa ating bansa tayo’y nagiging biktima na sa climate change”, Puno said 

            “Dahil din sa kawalan natin ng forest cover yung ating mga plants at hayop natin ay unti-unting nawawala o namamatay. Dito po sa Butuan at Surigao madalas din po nababaha konting ulan lang baha na” Puno said. 

            Puno said he and DENR Undersecretary precisely came here to Butuan City to see to it how the one million tree a year project will work. 

            Puno said one thing he got attracted to the project is that everybody in the community owned it, “and in that case this project will not fail because this project is own by the people”. 

            DENR undersecretary Ernesto Adobo for his part said that the launching was timely in time of President Aquino’s signing of executive order requiring all government agencies to plant 1.5-B trees in 1.5-M hectares of land staring this year up to 2016. 

            Adobo said that the assurance of the Department of Education to help the tree planting project whereby one pupil is required to produce ten tree seedlings can help boost President Aquino’s Tree Planting. 

            ‘Apart from we see trees being planted, the impact of awareness for environmental awareness and protection through this project is great because we are slowly educating Filipinow slowly but surely” Adobo said. 

            Under the Butuan greening project which is planting one million trees per year, socio civic organizations like the Freemason, NGOs. Barangay Local Government Units , business sector like the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International, government agencies  and other business establishments affirmed their participation and cooperation to the project. (PNA/Ben Serrano) 

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