House passes bill requiring graduating students to plant 10 trees on final reading

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) — The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill requiring all graduating elementary, high school, and college students to plant at least 10 trees each before they can graduate.

House Bill 8728, or the "Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act," is principally authored by MAGDALO Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and Cavite 2nd District Representative Strike Revilla.

"With over 12 million students graduating from elementary and nearly five million students graduating from high school and almost 500,000 graduating from college each year, this initiative, if properly implemented, will ensure that at least 175 million new trees would be planted each year. In the course of one generation, no less than 525 billion can be planted under this initiative," Alejano explained in the bill's explanatory note. "Even with a survival rate of only 10 percent, this would mean an additional 525 million trees would be available for the youth to enjoy, when they assume the mantle of leadership in the future."

The trees shall be planted in forest lands, mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domains, civil and military reservations, urban areas under the greening plan of the local government units, inactive and abandoned mine sites, and other suitable lands. These planted trees must be appropriate to the location, climate and topography of the area, and there will be a preference for the planting of indigenous tree species.

Under the bill, the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education will be the implementing bodies, in partnership with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and other government agencies.

The agencies shall be responsible for nursery establishment, seedling production and site preparation, monitoring and evaluation, and technical support and extension services. They must also provide security, transportation, fire protection amenities, and medical support.

The bill has no counterpart in the Senate.