Running priest enjoins Ilocanos to save 700 indigenous trees

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte, March 12 — In the quest for free solar power, some 700 indigenous trees in Currimao town will be cleared for the purpose.

That is why Father Robert Reyes, known as the “running priest” from Malabon, is in Laoag City to join young Ilocanos in their crusade to save trees and avoid cutting them.

Alternative source of energy: The wind farm in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. The usual casualties of wind farm facilities are birds native to the area or just passing by that are hit by the blades of the turbine.

Reyes’ visit to Ilocos Norte came in the wake of the proposed cutting of more than 700 indigenous species of trees in Currimao town to give way for the construction of a 20-megawatt solar power farm here.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has granted a tree cutting permit provided the fallen trees will be replaced with thousands of seedlings through a reforestation program to be funded by the project proponent—Mirae Asia, now under the direct control of Soleq Philippines Inc.

Regardless of the number of trees to replace the old-growth trees in a forest area covering Bimmanga, Paguludan and Salindeg villages, Reyes said trees are living creatures created by God and no amount could replace it.

“This is a materialist argument. It’s like I will swap my 10 old cars with 1 brand new car. You cannot swap life with life. Life in itself has to be preserved at all cost. Kaya yan po ang problema kapag profit-driven. Pwede mong gawin ang lahat dahil lahat ay may katumbas na so much money, so much number of trees,” he said.

Hosted by the Northwestern University in Laoag City, Reyes will be having a dialogue with students, non-government organizations and local officials here to discuss ways of preserving the environment and preventing cutting of trees.

On Thursday, Reyes together with young professionals, sports enthusiasts and students will run in Laoag City as a way of instilling public awareness on environment protection and preservation. The assembly place will start at the NU freedom park at 5:00 a.m., then the group will run all the way to Laoag City proper. (PNA)


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