Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said he wanted to see for himself if trees are really being planted in mined-out areas so he can report to President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said this as Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. (RTN), a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC), began the last stretch of the company’s goal to plant 5 Million trees in Barangay Rio Tuba, Bataraza.
Roque graced the ceremonial planting of the first batch of the remaining 900,000 trees RTN needs to complete its goal of 5 million trees planted.
Roque said he wanted to see for himself if trees are really being planted in the mining community and that he is “impressed” by what RTN is trying to do in Palawan, planting trees all over the province.
He added it is important that he has seen mining in RTN personally to be able to present to President Duterte and the whole country that “not all mining is irresponsible, that in Bataraza, the environment is being cared for”.
“I will report to President Duterte what Rio Tuba Mining is doing in greening Palawan. We will tell the world, since PTV media is here with us, that in Rio Tuba, in Bataraza, there is no difference between the concept of job creation and the protection of the environment,” Roque said.
To date, RTN has a record of about 4.1 million surviving trees planted in various areas covered in its mine rehabilitation and reforestation programs.
Roque congratulated Nickel Asia, the LGU of Bataraza, and employees of the mining company for inviting him to Rio Tuba.
“I feel that I am personally accepted here to also act as a protector of the environment, and this event is proof that the communities can well benefit from the economic contributions of mining while protecting and preserving nature,” Roque says.
According to environmental planner Janice M. Tupas, manager of the Mines Environmental Protection and Enhancement Dept. (MEPED) of RTN, there is a mechanism that her team and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) employ that actually monitors and counts the survival rates of the trees they plant.
“This year, we will be more aggressive, we will build hectares upon hectares of bamboo plantations, we will engage the communities to turn their backyards into mini forests and we will have support from the Department to Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Education (DepEd) in Palawan that I feel we will even surpass 5 million,” Tupas said.
Engineer Cynthia E. Rosero, resident mine manager for RTN, said having Roque grace the important event helps showcase RTN’s environment protection programs and the mining company’s aggressive efforts to keep Palawan green.
“Planting 5 million trees is no easy feat for a mining company and we are proud of this,” Rosero says.
RTN is one of the mining companies committed to achieving ecosystem restoration and reforestation in mined-out areas. Applying progressive rehabilitation strategies, RTN, in its more than 50 years of operation in Rio Tuba, proves that an active mining company can create a forest in its path and can be the catalyst in the re-greening of a province like Palawan.
“RTN’s bold ambition is to plant 5 Million trees it can leave behind as a legacy. This year is the last stretch in achieving that ambition. With a balance of 900,000, many are cheering us on and many are putting in their support and we are honored and grateful,” added Tupas.
To date, RTN has rehabilitated a total of 196.64 hectares of its mining area where it has planted 1,205,763 surviving trees of different species including narra, ipil, apitong, agoho, udling, kupang, batino, tongkat ali, amugis, among others.
Some 663.08 hectares have been reforested with native tree species, coffee, mangroves, botanical plant, and some industrial trees, in support of the government’s Green Philippine Highway Project; Adopt-a-Mountain Project; and the National Greening Program
RTN said it plants trees to fulfill the objective of mine rehabilitation to restore disturbed areas to a safe, non-erodible condition, establishing land use capability that is functional and back to the condition, if not better, before disturbance.
“Planting 5 million trees is not something ordinary organizations can easily do, but RTN endeavors this for Palawan and in fact, RTN intends to plant more in the years to come,” said Tupas.