‘In Iloilo, we plant trees, not bullets’

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JASAC staff members in tree-planting activity. (Photo: JASAC)

JARO, Iloilo City, Nov. 19, 2015 – In stark contrast to the dreaded “bullet-planting” or “tanim-bala” scam that is making the country’s airports notorious, this Catholic archdiocese launched a massive tree-planting program in response to the Pope’s call for all the faithful to work together to take care of our “”Common Home”.

Volunteers from various parishes came together in a tree-planting activity on Nov. 14 in Mt. Upao, San Dionisio, Iloilo, to plant the initial 5,000 trees – of the 150,000 committed earlier by the Archdiocese of Jaro – in time for the celebration of the feast of the Archdiocese’s patroness, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, on Nov. 17, and also in line with Jaro’s 150th anniversary of existence as a diocese.

Jaro Archdiocesan Social Action Center (JASAC) Director Msgr. Meliton Oso said the tree-planting “is a joint project of the JASAC, the Parish Social Action Ministry, and the Barangay Councils of San Nicolas, Capinag, Pase, Tiabas and Sua.”

Oso said that to assure their growth, the first 5,000 trees planted will be nursed by the residents of the five barangays in San Dionisio.

READ: Davao hopes climate change lessons will reach kids, grassroots 

The Social Action Center Director explained that the tree-planting project is their response to Pope Francis who, in his encyclical “Laudato Si” encouraged “ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse,… planting trees, or any number of other practices.”

“In the local Church in Iloilo, we would like to underline in particular the planting of trees,” stressed Oso, citing the influence of earlier prelates like the late Jaro Archbishop Alberto J. Piamonte.

“’Regarding reforestation, in particular, here in Iloilo, our forest cover is only about 2% falling too short of the ideal 40% forest cover needed to balance our oxygen requirement. To regain this ecological balance in Iloilo we should plant 19 trees for every tree that we see now, or plant 20 trees for every tree that we cut down,’” Oso said, quoting Piamonte’s Feb. 16, 1994 pastoral letter “Let us take care of this earth God.”

Convinced about the importance of trees to life in general and to human life in particular, the JASAC director appealed to everyone, saying, “We are inviting you and your organizations to join us in our tree-planting program. We hope to see you for the sake of Mother Earth and the generations yet to come.” (Fr. Mickey Cardenas / CBCP News)

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