The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is planning to impose tree-planting as a requirement for those applying for a license or franchise from the agency.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the trees must be planted by franchise applicants in areas designated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and concerned local government units.
The proposed reforestation program, Tugade said, was recommended by one of his regional directors to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) after noticing denuded forests contributed to flooding in Cagayan.
“Sabi sa akin, ‘Sir, bakit hindi nating gawing proseso na ‘pag mayroong kumuha ng prangkisa iyong kooperatiba or prangkisa iyong mga individual, part of the responsibility is to plant trees.’ Kung may kooperatiba ka diyan, ili-limit — minimum ho diyan 500 trees kada prangkisa na ibibigay ko sa iyo.”
(He told me, ‘Why not make it a process that when a cooperative or an individual applies for a franchise, part of their responsibility is to plant trees.’ If there’s a cooperative, we will impose a minimum 500 trees plant for every license that will be given to you),” Tugade said during the situation briefing attended by President Duterte and other government oficials in Cagayan.
“‘Yung mga kukuha ng mga new licenses, pagtanimin ko iyan ng sampung puno, (To those applying for new licenses, I will ask them to plant 10 trees) you know, at designated area, it becomes a matter of created responsibility and obligation. Then, we can address, in our own way, that system,” he said.
Tugade said he would coordinate closely with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on identifying the places suitable for planting trees. He said he intends to implement “nationwide” the tree-planting requirement for franchise applicants.
He said the massive tree planting activity could help reforest denuded slopes and mountains and ease landslides and floods during calamities.
Apart from the intensifying reforestation efforts, Tugade proposed the dredging of Cagayan River to ease flooding in the province during storms.
“Kung hindi ho magagawa iyang dalawa na iyan, paulit-ulit ho mangyayari iyong pagbaha dito. Kaya in the medium term, kailangan ho talagang buhos ang trabaho diyan sa dredging at saka sa reforestation (If these two cannot be implemented, flooding will happen again. In the medium term, work must be focused on dredging and reforestation),” said Tugade, who hails from Cagayan.
Meantime, Tugade and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III have teamed up to conduct a relief operation this week in Cagayan-Isabela area.
The transportation chief said they intend to provide food, water and other relief aid to the flood victims. They also intend to donate 100 fishing boats made from fiber glass for affected coastal residents of the region.