Paje humbled by PNoy’s decision to appoint him permanently

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje expressed humility on President Aquino’s decision to appoint him on a permanent capacity, saying he is even “more challenged” now with his designation as well to head the Cabinet cluster on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

At the same time, Paje called on all officials and employees of the DENR to continue supporting the president’s agenda for “tuwid na daan” by helping the people break from the bondage of poverty through improved programs on environmental protection and natural resources management.
“I am deeply happy and humbled by the President’s decision and I intend to be worthy of the honor of the President’s confidence,” Paje said.

While maintaining that he will continue to serve at the pleasure of the President, Paje vowed to continue initiating administrative and policy reforms in the department.  

He emphasized to the DENR employees the importance of fitness in government service.  “Performers will be rewarded while the rogue and corrupt officials and employees shall be punished,” Paje said.

The DENR chief also added that erring employees shall not be allowed to tarnish the good name of the institution, “Kailanman ay hindi natin hahayaang sirain ng iilang tiwaling opisyal o empleyado ang pinagtrabahuan natin,” he said. 

Paje also welcomed his latest assignments as chairman of the Cabinet cluster for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and as a member of the cluster on human development and poverty reduction.  “I am doubly challenged now with the added mandates from the President,”  Paje stressed. 

President Aquino issued on May 13, Executive Order No. 43 creating five Cabinet clusters, namely: Good Governance and Anti-Corruption; Human Development and Poverty Reduction; Economic Development; Security, Justice and Peace; Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.

Under the order, the DENR secretary shall serve as chairman of the cluster on climate change mitigation and adaptation and as a member in the human development and poverty reduction cluster.

The other members of the climate change cluster include the chairmen of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the Metro Manila Development Authority;  the secretaries of the Departments of Science and Technology, Interior and Local Government, Public Works and Highways, Social Welfare and Development, Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Energy, and National Defense. The Climate Change Commission shall function as the secretariat for the cluster.

“With the inclusion of climate change, the President has effectively reconfigured the entire bureaucracy into global-warming-responsive state apparatus,” he said.

Paje noted the cluster system would have the advantage of ensuring greater coordination of policies, programs and strategies among government agencies resulting in greater complementation of policies within the same cluster and across clusters. 

“It will ensure complementation between education policy and health policy; industrial policy and macro-economic policy; social, environmental and economic policy,” Paje added, noting the system will also allow policy makers to anticipate, for, example, impacts of economic policy on employment creation and poverty reduction and environmental management as these policies would be clearly spelled out through a coordinated approach to policy formulation and planning.

Other important green initiatives of President Aquino, said Paje, include Executive Order No. 23, which bans logging in natural forests and the creation of an inter-agency task force against illegal logging, and Executive Order No. 26 declaring the implementation of the National Greening Program as a government priority program. “From ground-breaking presidential fiats like Executive Orders 23 and 26 to his initiatives in rallying our countrymen to celebrate the richness of the country’s natural splendor, the President has amply proven his commitment to the perpetuity of our country’s natural resources,” said Paje, citing the issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 43 as “yet another example of the President’s commitment to his green agenda to safeguard and enrich the strength and viability of our nation both for the present and future generations.” 


DENR enlists 5M studes, 42,000 barangays in greening effort

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has secured the support of more than 5-million students in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide, along with officials and community leaders in 42,000 barangays, to kick off the National Greening Program (NGP).

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala will also mobilize the personnel of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) in all regions to support the greening efforts, particularly its biofertilizer requirements.

Paje has been tasked by President Aquino to take the lead in the NGP, which was established through Executive Order No. 26 issued on February 24, 2011 to complement the prohibition of logging in natural and residual forests through Executive Order No. 23.                   

NGP mandates the planting of some 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of denuded and marginal lands all over the country from 2011 to 2016.                
EO 26 also mandates the participation of 14 departments and government agencies, State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), local government units (LGUs) and enjoins non-government organizations (NGOs) and people's organizations (POs) to join the effort.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) also play a key role in the program as part of the National Convergence Initiative (NCI).     NGP targets 100,000 hectares for replanting in 2011; 200,000 hectares for 2012; and 300,000 hectares yearly from 2013 to 2016 to complete its goal of reforesting a total of 1.5 million hectares.

The DENR chief said the NGP is also an economic program since it complements the DA's goal of achieving food security and alleviating poverty.    NGP actually seeks to make 8 million hectares of degraded land productive in the long run.

“If for every hectare of land produces P10,000 per year,” Paje  said, “this would mean an additional income of P80 billion for rural families annually.” 

DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes noted that since agrarian reform communities (ARCs) are located in or in the vicinity of forests, he said residents in these communities maintain close and mutually beneficial and protective relationship with forests.

“If we cannot protect our forests, we cannot protect our agrarian reform beneficiaries,” he said.

In his speech, read by Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corp. (PADCC) president  Marriz B. Agbon,  Alcala lauded the NCI and committed the DA to science-led sustainable agricultural technologies and development.   

“Malinaw ang mga direktang benepisyo: Bawas-insidente ng kahirapan at kagutuman sa mga dahop na komunidad sa kapatagan man o uplands, at katiyakan sa pambansang kasapatan sa pagkain,” Alcala explained.

Citing the need for more irrigation facilities to enable farming, Alcala also underlined DA efforts to develop scientific organic farming in the countryside, reducing the costs of input to farmers and moving faster into sustainable natural methods.

Soil fertility and care being paramount, Alcala assigned BSWM to spearhead the organic development effort.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has committed 5-million students and faculty members to back up NGP.
Grades 5 and 6 and high school students will be focused on the denuded areas planting effort, while elementary schools will support the nursery efforts.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) has committed the support of all SUCs and private colleges within its system.

For its part, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has committed to mobilize officials and residents in 42,000 barangays nationwide for the effort.


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