MANILA, Philippines—A simple tree-planting activity has been seen to help ease religious tensions among farming communities in strife-torn North Cotabato, officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said Wednesday.
The DAR, with local officials of Midsayap town in North Cotabato, recently led the planting of some 1,200 mahogany seedlings in the agrarian reform communities (ARCs) of Tumbras, Rajah Buayan, Tugal, Nabalawag, Kapinpilan, and Sambulawan, in support of the government’s National Greening Program.
“We are hopeful that this program will also strengthen the cooperation and camaraderie of Muslim and Christian agrarian reform beneficiaries to attain peace and development in their respective communities,” Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Marion Abella said in a news release.
North Cotabato is a known hotbed of Moro insurgency, where conflict often arises between Muslim and Christian groups.
Besides promoting peace, Abella said the tree-growing program also sought to mitigate the effects of climate change, which has been greatly affecting the livelihood of the farmers.
The National Greening Program is a government initiative to plant some 1.5 billion trees covering about 1.5-million hectares nationwide “to promote resource conservation and protection, productivity enhancement, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and poverty reduction.”
Abella added that the DAR was encouraging other ARBs (agrarian reform beneficiaries) to sustain the program “because in the coming years the trees will grow to boost the natural resources in their areas.”
ARBs who participated in the tree-growing program were also given the privilege to name a tree after themselves.
Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer Felerma Gimenez said the idea of having the trees named after them gave the ARBs a sense of pride and responsibility in the trees they had planted.
“We are hoping that the collective efforts of ARBs planting tree will also be radiated to other ARCs in the province in the next months to come,” Gimenez said.