BACOLOD City – The Diocese of Bacolod has partnered with the government for the implementation of the tree-growing project, dubbed “Panggas”, among the Catholic schools under its jurisdiction.
The project is being undertaken through an agreement formalized recently between the Diocese of Bacolod, the Negros Occidental provincial government, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP)-Negros Occidental.
Fr. Chris Gonzales, head of the Diocese’s Social Action Center, said the inspiration of the project is Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si (Praise Be), On the Care of Our Common Home.”
“We hope it will become a policy that every school will have tree-growing program, and for it to be part of the school curriculum,” Gonzales said.
The Diocese of Bacolod covers the area from Hinigaran in the south to Victorias City in the north of Negros Occidental.
Gonzales said 11 schools were initially identified as participants in the tree-growing project.
Seedlings have already been planted in areas identified by the DENR after the program’s soft launching in E.B. Magalona town in September.
The partnership agreement was signed by Alfredo Marañon Jr. for the province of Negros Occidental and by Bishop Patricio Buzon for the Diocese of Bacolod during their meeting at the conference room of the Bishop’s House on Wednesday.
Also, parties to the agreement were Rev. Fr. Hubert Javellana, regional secretary of CEAP-Negros Occidental, and DENR-Western Visayas Regional Director Sampulna. However, both were not able to attend the signing activity.
Edgardo Rostata, head of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Negros Occidental, said the tree-growing project is a pioneering initiative of the DENR with the Catholic schools.
The areas identified by the agency for the project are those in the cities of Bacolod, Bago, Talisay and Silay, and E.B. Magalona town, which hosted the soft launching of the project in September.
Under the agreement, the Diocese of Bacolod will designate a point person and provide technical assistance for the program’s implementation.
It will also assist the Negros Occidental Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO) in the institutionalization of the program and will further assist both the PENRO and the PEMO in carrying out information, education and communication initiatives.
For its part, the CEAP is committed to cooperate in the project as a response to Laudato Si, as well as coordinate with its member-schools and facilitate the implementation of the project in selected feasible sites. (PNA)