CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, CamSur – The Philippine Army in the Bicol Region came in droves to a coastal village in Calabanga town yesterday (June 5) to plant mangrove trees together with various stakeholders, a military official said.
Major Harold Cabunoc, 9th ID Spokesperson said that a platoon of soldiers joined the mangrove tree planting activity together with participants from different organizations, including local residents of Cagsao village.
“We prefer to plant trees that will benefit the people than bombs that will maim and cause the loss of life and property,” Cabunoc said.
Started in August 2009, the reforestation project in Cagsao is one of the most successful endeavor due to the 90% survivability rate of the planted trees.
At least a hundred strong participants braved the scorching heat of the sun as they planted more than 2,000 seedlings adjacent to the first reforestation site.
The residents of the fishing village of Cagsao had previously complained about the dwindling fish catch due to over-fishing.
Mang Renato, a local fisherman, said that he relies on fishing to sustain his growing family. He believed that the planting of mangrove trees will ‘attract the fishes and crabs’.
“I have personally seen the presence of more crabs and other sea creatures a few months ago when the trees we planted last year started to grow,” he said.
The village was handpicked as the recipient of the project due to the strong support provided by its local government officials and residents.
Town Mayor Evelyn Yu, together with the barangay (village) officials of Cagsao, came with their family members to show their willingness to support the project.
“We are very thankful to all of our partners for continuously supporting this project. I would also like to credit the residents of this coastal village (Cagsao) for their active participation to protect this future mangrove forest that will contribute towards environmental protection in general,” said Yu.
LtCol Erwin De Asis, Civil-Military Operations officer of the 9th Infantry Division and one of the participants, said that he had participated in similar reforestation projects in the past, particularly in Panay Island.
“It is heart-warming to see that the local people are actively participating in this undertaking. It is the Army’s job to assist the people in the various peace and development programs that will benefit them. This is one way to end the communist insurgency problem in our country,” De Asis, a veteran of Mindanao’s conflict, narrated.
Mangrove tree planting is supported by many cause-oriented groups because it is believed that mangrove trees can protect coastal areas from erosion, storm surge during typhoons which victimize the Bicol region almost every year.