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House OKs tree-planting tasks for graduating studes

THE House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill requiring graduating senior high school and college students to plant two trees each.

House Bill (HB) 6931 authored by Representatives Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City has been consolidated with five other measures authored by Reps. Manuel Cabochan lll of Magdalo, Joel Mayo Almario of Davao Oriental, Tyrone Agabas of Pangasinan, Mark Go of Baguio City, and Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Domingo Rivera of CIBAC.

Rodriguez said graduating high school and college students would be required to plant trees “as a civic duty for environment protection and preservation.”

He said the country is fast losing its forest cover and habitat of flora and fauna due to agricultural practices, illegal logging, large-scale mining, population growth, and conversion of land into residential, commercial or industrial development.

“We are among the world’s mega diverse countries but we are also among the biodiversity hotspots,” he said.

Rodriguez added that the consolidated bill “seeks to address the problem of biodiversity loss.”

Under the measure, planting trees would be a pre-requisite for graduation for high school and college students.

The Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) would enforce the tree planting requirement in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Science and Technology (DoST), and National Commission on Indigenous People.

The DENR and local government units would identify the planting areas. The DENR and the DA would establish and maintain seedling banks that would supply the needed seedlings.

The DepEd and CHED, in coordination with the DENR and DILG, would issue implementing rules and regulations.

Funding would be included in the annual budgets of the agencies tasked to implement the proposed tree planting law.