President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday raised the need to protect the environment as a way to promote economic growth and stability, during a nationwide simultaneous tree planting activity on his 65th birthday.
“We have to do this as a concrete step that we take so that nature is cared for because it desperately needs that care and it desperately needs that attention,” Marcos said during the National Simultaneous Bamboo and Tree Planting and Kickoff Ceremony at the Old San Mateo Sanitary Landfill in Rizal.
The tree planting program aims to plant over 8,000 seedlings and bamboo planting stocks in some parts of Calabarzon.
After delivering his speech, Marcos planted a bamboo plant stock named “Bambusa Blumeana” or “Kawayang Tinik.”
The President said he opted to spearhead the tree planting event on his birthday to raise awareness about protecting the environment, which he said was an important national and global issue.
“This initiative will greatly help in raising awareness on environmental welfare and protection,” he said.
“At the same time, it will contribute to the DENR’s (Department of theEnvironment and Natural Resources) National Greening Program, the country’s most ambitious reforestation program, with the goal of reducing poverty, ensuring food security, [ensuring] environmental stability, conserving biodiversity, and mitigating climate change, and adapting to climate change,” he added.
Through the program, more than 2 million hectares of reforestation sites have been established from 2011 to 2021.
An additional 46,265 hectares will be developed this year, and the DENR is also targeting 11,631 hectares of enhanced National Greening Program sites in 2023.
The seedlings that were planted during Tuesday’s event will be significant in realizing the government’s reforestation goal, as the program generates jobs, opportunities, as well as livelihood for ordinary Filipinos, the President said.
More than the economic benefit of the activity, he said the country is essentially and primarily investing in ensuring that the planet remains a safe space, especially for the next generation that will, inherit it.
The President also said he sees some symbolism in the tree planting activity as the government turns an old sanitary landfill into a reforestation area that benefits the environment and the local community.
Government officials joined scores of supporters across the country in greeting the President on his birthday.
Among them was Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles who took her greeting to Facebook, wishing the President good health.
Cruz-Angeles assured the President that she would stand by his efforts to improve the lives of every Filipino and the living condition of the nation.
Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said that she and other officials are witnesses to the President’s “unyielding resolve” for public service regardless of challenges he has encountered along the way.
“By embodying resilience and humility and espousing true nation-building and unity, you have truly gained the confidence and trust of the Filipino people,” she said.
Pangandaman said she and members of her department would also pray forhis continued success.
Social Welfare and Development Secretary Erwin Tulfo expressed support for the President’s goal of helping the nation rise from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also shared a short video clip of a birthday luncheon for the President in Malacañan Palace.
In the clip, some members of the Cabinet and political allies sang the birthday song for the President.
Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte and Commission on Higher Education chairman Prospero de Vera also expressed greetings on the President’s birthday.
Duterte thanked the President for allowing her to fulfill her duties not only as a public official but also as a mother, referring to her being allowed to use an Air Force aircraft so she can go home to her kids in Davao.
In a Facebook post, De Vera commended Marcos’ support in ensuring quality and accessible education for all.
Marcos, commonly referred to as Bongbong and by the initials BBM, was born on Sept. 13, 1957 in the town of Batac, Ilocos Norte.
He is the son and namesake of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and the third child of a former president of the Philippines to also become Chief Executive.
He became a majority president after obtaining 31,629,783 votes or 58.77 percent of the votes cast in the May 9 polls.