Planting trees now part of Christian rites in Iloilo

ILOILO – The Catholic Church, especially the Archdiocese of Jaro, is urging the faithful to support the reforestation campaign of the government one year and four months after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

The monster storm uprooted thousands of trees, including some century-old trees in this province, and the affected areas need an immediate massive reforestation.  

Rev. Msgr. Higinio C. Velarde, JCD, representing Abp. Angel N. Lagdameo, D.D., acknowledged the threats posed by the effects of climate change and reiterated that everyone must do something about it.

“He may not be here with us today but this is very important for the Archbishop,” Velarde said referring to the memorandum of agreement that will soon require the faithful to plant trees prior to holding of some of Christian rites and ceremonies here.

The agreement specifically mandates marring couples, the family of the departed and the parents of those who will be baptized to plant a tree before the conduct of the ceremonies.

This agreement is sealed yesterday between the Archdiocese of Jaro, the Iloilo Provincial Government and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Western Visayas.

“Prior to the signing of this agreement, some of our priests are already requiring marrying couples to plant trees before their wedding,” Velarde shared adding that the activity is symbolic for the couples.

As to the number of trees to be planted and the steps to get the certification, Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. said there will be an implementing rules and regulation to its effect.

“This MOA is still subject for review and ratification by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Before we finalize everything, we have to make sure that everything is provided by the law,” he explained.

He added that a Provincial Ordinance maybe necessary to ensure the sustainability of the projects provided under this agreement.

Once implemented, marrying couples, the bereaved families of the departed and the parents of newborn Christian will plant trees in a designated area which will be known as the “Tree Park of Life” in every municipality.

“You know how important tree is. Mankind has invented a lot of things but none has created a tree. Only God can. If will abuse and disregard our environment, nothing will be left for the future,” said Defensor.

On his part, DENR Regional Director Jim Sampulna said the partnership is in support to the National Greening Program, a government initiative for poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

It is also anchored to the governor’s Action for Re-greening and Transformation for Climate Change Adaptation, which aims to plant 1.5-million endemic trees and half a million mangroves, he said.

“I am really thankful that the province and the church are supporting us in our mission to increase the forest cover of the region. I also hope that everybody will cooperate so we can achieve great things for all,” he stressed.

He added that growing trees is for the protection and conservation of the environment and legacy for the present and future generations. (Jezza A. Nepomoceno/Capitol News)


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