Iloilo faithful required to plant trees before marriage, etc.

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ILOILO City, April 24, 2015—A “prenup” is one thing, but here is an agreement of the “green” kind.

In a bid to reforest lands denuded by typhoon “Yolanda” (“Haiyan”) in 2013, the Archdiocese of Jaro recently signed an agreement with the provincial government of Iloilo, requiring couples getting married, families of the departed, as well as parents and guardians of candidates for baptism to plant trees ahead of their desired Catholic rite, according to a press release from Iloilo’s Provincial Information Office (PIO).

Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr.; Msgr. Higinio Velarde; and DENR Regional Director James Sampulna ink a tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) requiring Iloilo faithful to plant trees before contracting marriage, among other Catholic rites. (Photo: Iloilo Provincial Government)

“Prior to the signing of this agreement, some of our priests are already requiring marrying couples to plant trees before their wedding,” shared Msgr. Higinio C. Velarde, representing Jaro Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo in the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) held on April 22, along with Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr and Director Jim Sampulna  of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Western Visayas.

Important move

“He may not be here with us today but this is very important for the archbishop,” the priest reportedly added, alluding to the MOA.

After Yolanda uprooted thousands of trees in the province, including many century-old ones, with affected areas needing immediate reforestation, Velarde acknowledged the threats the effects of climate change poses, calling on the Iloilo faithful to act now before it is too late.

Once fully enforced, Iloilo Catholics who want to marry, have someone baptized or buried will be asked to plant trees in designated areas in each municipality to be called “Tree Park of Life.”


Defensor stressed there will be implementing rules and regulation as to the number of trees to be planted.

“This MOA is still subject for review and ratification by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Before we finalize everything, we have to make sure that everything is provided by the law,” he explained.

He added that a provincial ordinance may be necessary to ensure the sustainability of the projects provided under the MOA. .

“You know how important tree is. Mankind has invented a lot of things but none has created a tree. Only God can. If will abuse and disregard our environment, nothing will be left for the future,” said Defensor.

Greening program

For Sampulna, the partnership backs the government’s National Greening Program for poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“I am really thankful that the province and the Church are supporting us in our mission to increase the forest cover of the region. I also hope that everybody will cooperate so we can achieve great things for all,” he said.

He added that growing trees is for the protection and conservation of the environment and a legacy for the present and future generations. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News with reports from Jezza A. Nepomoceno)

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