ILOILO CITY – About 3,600 from the youth sector here participated in the DENR-DOLE-Gugma (Love) Youth cleanup and tree planting activity launched at the Esplanade 4 park on Friday.

The Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) provided seedlings while the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) enrolled the beneficiaries under its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) emergency employment program for 10 days.

Gugma Youth, an organization of young leaders in the city, will have to plant at least five seedlings and undertake cleanup activities in select areas in the city.

Iloilo City Lone District Rep. Julienne Baronda hopes the initiative will be replicated by other local government units.

She said tree planting and the cleanup drive can help address flooding, which is one of the hazards identified in Western Visayas, including Iloilo City.

“We are mobilizing close to 4,000 youths of Iloilo City. You are part of this very unique program of the government,” she said in her message.

DENR Secretary Ma. Antonia Loyzaga, in her message delivered by Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna, said it is deemed fitting that the protection and conservation of natural resources be spearheaded by the country’s most important resource, which is the youth.

“We recognized the intergenerational responsibility of every generation to the rest to preserve the rhythm and harmony of nature for the full enjoyment of that balanced and healthful ecology we deserve,” she said.

She added that the DOLE-TUPAD program empowers the youth to fulfill their obligations.

Under the program, they will be paid PHP450 a day or PHP4,500 each at the end of their contracts.

DENR Regional Executive Director Livino Duran said they have 36,000 available seedlings all over the region ready to supply future tree planting needs.

“This is a continuing activity because we want to make this city a green urban city,” he said. (PNA)