Undertake reforestation,but no NGOs please


Typhoons and storms are becoming more severe year after year, with more rains and floods wreaking havoc on the country.

According to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Maring, which brought Metro Manila to a standstill, dropped 600 millimeters of rain within a 24-hour period. In 2009, Ondoy inundated the metropolis with 455 millimeters of rain. Habagat last year gave us 472 millimeters of rain.

Ondoy caused the death of 243 people, while Habagat accounted for 46 lives lost. It was pure luck that we emerged from Maring with only six victims. The rain fell on least vulnerable portions of the metropolis.

The weather is clearly out of whack. The rainy season brings greater volume of rain than it used to, while summers are drier and hotter. The phenomenon is attributed by scientists to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, usually coming from cars and the smoke stacks of heavy industry.

The biggest culprit is the United States. It consumes more than half of the world’s energy production, thus accounting for a disproportionate share of the emissions, followed by China and Japan.

It is they and other highly industrialized countries, who must do something about it. They cause the problem in the first place, and they have the technology and the resources to tackle it.

There’s very little we can do about climate change. However, we can mitigate its effect on our own people, first by declaring a moratorium on logging, legal or illegal, then by implementing an honest-to-goodness reforestation program.

It has become a national mantra to stop deforestation, which is the cause of massive and destructive floods. Sure, we go through the motion of denouncing it, but we forget all about it after a while and blithely go about our ways until the next catastrophe.

A few influential individuals, usually foreigners in cahoots with corrupt government officials, are allowed to plunder—there’s a word that has gained currency nowadays—and strip the forest bare. Theoretically, the people get their share through the taxes paid by logging concessions, but the people who own them do not bother at all.

At the beginning of the 20th century, 70 percent of the country was covered in green. Now there is only 3.2 percent of left of the forest. It is high time that we stopped the pillage.

The next step is to rehabilitate logged over areas of the mountains.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd should include next year an item in the national budget for the purpose, but with a caveat. Only mayors and governors should be given the task of implementing the project.

If we do it right we’ll hit two birds with one stone: create jobs and make the mountains green again.

No NGOs please. If the DoJ widened the probe of thievery in the government (graft and corruption is no longer adequate to describe it), it would find out that bogus NGOs have also cornered reforestation projects, with hundreds of millions of pesos awarded to them. But the projects exist only on paper, just like the fertilizers and pesticides supposedly distributed by NGOs set up by Janet Lim Napoles, who is said to be responsible for the P10 billion PDAF scam in the past two years alone.

Only high school students do the actual tree planting, usually at the start of the rainy season. You don’t see any NGO worker.

NGOs involved in climate mitigation operate on grants from international funding agencies. Nothing’s wrong with that, except for the fact that local NGOs pocket the money, without undertaking any project. All they do is come up with doctored documents.

The Aquino administration should stop the scam by persuading these international agencies to stop employing NGOs and tap local government units instead.

Can we expect the mayors and governors to handle the funds better? No ironclad guarantee, but at least they are accountable to the people. Not these NGOs. They take the money, fold up, then resurface with another name and repeat the process all over again.

If we go by the record, we’re better off trusting the devil instead of these grasping NGOs and their cohorts in the legislature.


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