Last May 6, 2013 DA Secretary Proceso Alcala together with AMAS Director Leonardo Gazmin and Regional Executive Directors Atty. Cipriano Santiago and Engr. Abelardo Bragas of Regions 4B and 5 for the Partnership Launch of the Green Initiative Program spearheaded by Ms. Gina Lopez of the ABS-CBN Foundation's (AFI) Bantay Kalikasan.

 The Green Initiative is a program between and among AFI, Department of Agriculture (DA), Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau - Department of Environment and Natural Resources (PAWB-DENR), Department of Tourism (DOT), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation. These key players will carry individual key strategic capabilities that when joined together for the benefit of a chosen area, can result in a significant improvement in the quality of life for the community. PAWB-DENR shall plan and create the necessary infrastructure and systems needed to protect the chosen projects in such a way that the communities in the area may benefit while protecting the chosen locality. DOT will take lead in promoting the projects as leading tourist destinations in the country. The DA shall provide the agricultural sectors needed to uplift the project's agricultural production. For their part, ADMU shall handle and work with the academic community to monitor, evaluate and continue to hone and refine the operational strategies of the Green Initiative.

Sibuyan Island, specifically the municipalities of San Fernando and Cajidiocan, Romblon are chosen to be two of the Green Initiative's chosen areas. The municipalities will be receiving agricultural livelihood projects from the DA-RFU 4B where different banner programs of the regional office took parts in contributing to program's livelihood projects. Livestock, Organic Agriculture, High Value Development Program (HVCDP), Rice, Corn and Post Harvest Programs committed funds for the program. In addition, funds for abaca planting materials will also be made available for the Haguimit IP community. The regional office has committed a total amount of P13,605178.00 for the Green Initiative Program in Sibuyan Island, Romblon.

During the MOA signing, Ms. Gina Lopez thanked the national agencies and the academe that have joined her cause in environmental and natural heritage conservation and upliftment of local communities through eco-tourism. Spreading her excitement, she announced that the event is only the beginning of many more partnerships to come. DENR Secretary Ramon Paje explained the importance of taking care of our natural resources where he discussed the cycle of poverty. "When nature is exploited because of poverty, he said, this results to degradation of soil or any other natural resources which in turn results in low production and then the poor becomes more and more impoverished." DOT Secretary Mon Jimenez, on the other hand, was excited to push for eco-tourism. Secretary Alcala, in a short message affirmed the agency's support for the program. "Dalhin na ninyo ng dalhin ang mga turista at kami naman ang bahalang magpapakain sa kanila," he said. Dr. Bautista of ADMU and Ms. Charo Santos-Concio both expressed support for the Green Initiative Project.

Also present during the partnership launch were the Ms. Earth beauties. The Miss Earth Foundation earlier inked a MOA with the Green Initiative Project. ###

ATTY. CIPRIANO G. SANTIAGO, CESO III
Regional Executive Director

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