The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 6 led by Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran and the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Sara, Iloilo under the helm of Mayor Jon N. Aying signs a Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA) on the adoption of National Greening Program (NGP) or Enhanced National Greening Program (eNGP) Sites on January 22, 2024 at the Evacuation Center of Sara, Iloilo.

The agreement aims to conduct efforts to sustain the protection and maintenance of the graduated NGP/eNGP sites for continuous implementation. It also intends to further strengthen cooperation between the signatories in conserving the environment and natural resources in the area and at the same time, fight back illegal activities that might endanger the sites.

Also present during the event were PENR Officer Salvador C. Manglinong Jr. of PENRO Iloilo, CENR Officer Rene G. Abordo of CENRO Sara, Sangguniang Bayan Member Atty. Ray Canindo who represented Vice Mayor Ryan Zerrudo, Municipal Administrator Engr. Lea L. Aying, other Sangguniang Bayan members, and several DENR and local officials including stakeholders.

The areas covered as NGP sites are located in Brgys. Ardemil, Del Castillo, and Muyco with a total area of 130.0 hectares. Agroforestry, high value crops, timber, or a mix of these commodities are found in these plantations established in the years 2011, 2015, and 2017.

According to Mayor Aying, out of the 17,000 hectares land area of Sara, 4,292 hectares of which are timberland and roughly the same of which are corn plantations in place of timberland areas, and the LGU aims to place high value crops like Cacao (Theobroma cacao), Coffee (Coffea), and Coconut (Cocos nucifera). Hon. Aying also pointed out the different problems that his town is facing such as the effects of global warming and climate change, denudation of forests, soil erosion, and flooding.

“There will be a two-pronged approach- reforestation and livelihood program. We need not only to reforest but also provide livelihood support…I believe that this project is very promising,” Mayor Aying expressed.

DENR 6 turns over the said sites to LGU-Sara after the contracts of the said sites have been completed. The municipal government who is now the adoptor, will be responsible in ensuring a minimum of 85% survival rate of the planted trees, provide funding for projects intended for the sites, report damages due to force majeure or unforeseen incidents, and has the option to conduct assessments and monitoring so that they can inform DENR of the results if necessary.

RED Duran recounted his friendship and professional partnership with Mayor Aying who is a retired Major General of the Philippine Army who in the past joined hands together with other officials in crafting efforts to promote peace and order in the different parts of Western Visayas.

“The sites that you will be adopting will be further reforested, and it is our hope that Sara will be a production hub of Coffee and Cacao. DENR will help you by giving technical assistance to the LGU. We will give our full support to the preservation of Sara’s forestlands,” RED Duran said.

Meanwhile, DENR 6 is tasked to provide important technical assistance to the adoptor to ensure the program’s sustainability and conduct periodic assessments to monitor its implementation.