AS recognition for being considered as stewards of environmental protection, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently distributed Christmas gifts to at least 150 Aeta families from Bgy. Camias in Porac, Pampanga.
Benny Antiporda, DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns, said the gift-giving dubbed as “Sa Gitna ng Pandemya, Buhay at Kapaligiran ay Mahalaga,” was conducted to give hope to the indigenous peoples (IPs) of Pampanga amid the pandemic.
“You deserve these gifts. We are simply giving them back to you,” Antiporda told the recipients.
The IPs received groceries, vitamins, face masks, face shields, and alcohol. The gifts were received on their behalf by the barangay leaders and elders in compliance with social distancing protocols and mass gathering limitations.
“The DENR counts IPs among its valued stakeholders because they are considered stewards of environmental protection,” Antiporda added.
For his part, Edwin Abuque of the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives (IPMR) said: “It is important that we protect the forest and trees because these are our first line of defense against floods. They help protect those who reside at the foot of the mountains.”
Abuque added that plants and trees have healing properties, which “spared IPs from COVID-19.”
Antiporda urged the Aetas to plant rice and cacao in the land they are occupying for them to have a source of income.
The DENR official said he is ready to provide them with agricultural machineries to help them in farming. “Nurture your land. We will not give you fish to eat but we will teach you how to fish,” he added.
The Aetas said they were grateful for being chosen as beneficiaries and that the help came in time for Christmas. They committed to continue protecting the mountains which they consider their home.Publication Source : People's Tonight