ISOLATED. Officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao led by Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo (3rd from left with glasses) brave the strong river current to bring aid on Oct. 30, 2022 to Barangay Matuber, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte. Barangay Matuber has been isolated due to damaged bridge and road network due to the onslaught of Tropical Storm Paeng. (BARMM photo)

MANILA – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will intensify the government's national greening program by planting trees on more than two million hectares of land by 2028, Undersecretary Jonas Leones said Thursday.

This was the commitment that Leones made in relation to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s order to step up the government’s tree-planting program after the Chief Executive personally saw deforested land in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The deforestation was said to have caused the widespread flooding and landslide that claimed many lives during the onslaught of Typhoon Paeng last week.

Kaya nga naatasan niya kaagad ang DENR na paigtingin iyong ating National Greening Program. Parang nakita niya na para bang na-fire over iyong mga lugar na talagang kalbung-kalbo na (Hence he immediately ordered the DENR to intensify our National Greening Program. He seemed to have seen that the areas were really severely deforested),” Leones said during the Laging Handa briefing.

“In fact, ipagpapalagay po natin until 2028 ay mahigit two million hectares pa po ang kailangan nating taniman (let us say that until 2028, we still have to plant tree on more than two million hectares of land)," he added.

Leones said they would like to prioritize vulnerable and deforested areas, as well as critical watersheds to fortify natural barriers in case of strong weather disturbances in the future.

The Sierra Madre mountain range is well-known for serving as a natural barrier in the eastern part of Luzon island against destructive typhoons by breaking the wind strength of a cyclone before it hits the landmass of Luzon. (PNA)