(From left to right) WPU Vice-President for Research, Development and Extension Dr. Benjamin Gonzales, Rizal Municipal Mayor Otol Odi, WPU President Dr. Julie Hope Timotea Evina, Rizal Municipal Councilor Pepito Drilon.

A tripartite agreement to support to the implementation of environmental projects and programs in Rizal town was recently signed among the Western Philippines University (WPU), Tanggol Kalikasan, Inc. (TK), and the local government unit.

Under the terms of the memorandum of agreement (MOA), WPU and Tanggol Kalikasan will provide opportunities for municipal government officials in Rizal to strengthen their capabilities and technical skills in promoting initiatives that raise awareness on environmental protection and conservation, as well as in advancing governance and law enforcement endeavors in their communities.

Present at the event were signatories WPU President Dr. Julie Hope Timotea P. Evina, Rizal Mayor Otol Odi, Sangguniang Bayan member and Committee on Agriculture Chairman and TK local counterpart Councior Pepito Drilon, and WPU Vice-President for Research, Development and Extension and WPU-TK-Institute of Environmental Governance (IEG) coordinator Dr. Benjamin J. Gonzales, who finalized the agreement in a ceremony held on August 25, 2021, at the Conference Hall of the Executive House in WPU-Puerto Princesa Campus. 
   
“The agreement is a step forward in strengthening the partnership with the municipality of Rizal and in doubling our efforts to protect our environment and keep Palawan a paradise not only for us but the for the future generation as well,” Dr. Evina said.

The university president also expressed her willingness in extending any technical assistance to local government officials in the form of training from WPU’s pool of experts in environmental and natural resources management.
 
For his part, Odi said that the “agreement is a privilege to be chosen as partners of WPU in implementing environmental programs and projects”.

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We assure you of our full support,” he said. 
 
“Since WPU has two existing projects in the municipality in which one is being funded by TK and the other is by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development, we are looking on how to bridge these projects to become more sustainable and beneficial to the community,” Dr. Gonzales, meanwhile, said. 
 
Also in attendance were the members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Rizal Councilor Arvin Fuentes, ABC President Yusah Insani, Municipal Agriculture Officer Henry Palarca, WPU faculty member and TK-IEG project coordinator Dr. Elsa Carmen Montaño, and Associate Professor Arlene Avillanosa, also a WPU faculty member and the proponent of the Genetic Characterization of Macrobrahium in the Philippines project that is also being implemented in the municipality. 

TK is being funded by the United States (US) Department of State-Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs through the US Department of Interior, International Technical Assistance Program under the Environmental Justice Sector Reform in the Philippines Project. 

One of the projects that had already been implemented in the municipality under the signed MOA was the mangrove planting and rehabilitation that happened last July 14, 2021, in consonance with the celebration of World Mangrove Day.

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