General Reynaldo Velasco led guests yesterday (September 30) at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MTFI) plant and saplings nursery at the La Mesa Watershed area.

“I am proud to be part of this significant step towards environment sustainability as I end my stint today in MWSS.  Chairman Velasco spearheaded the Annual Million Tree Challenge (AMTC) project right after he assumed office in MWSS.  The AMTC aimed at rehabilitating seven (7) critical watersheds– Angat- Ipo, Kaliwa, La Mesa, Laguna Lake, Umiray, and Upper Marikina including Manila Bay–that are essential in the water supply chain in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. The AMTC which ends this year is on track, in achieving more than its target of four million trees in four years.

“We have to join hands to address the state of our watersheds as these greatly affect our water supply. I am grateful to the proponents of Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MTFI) for perpetuating the AMTC program and consolidating the AMTC partners to perpetuate watershed restoration not just for Metro Manila but for the whole country.”  Chairman Velasco thanked the MWSS concessionaires Manila Water, Maynilad, and Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation (LCWDC); and other project partners for supporting the AMTC. “AMTC would not have been as successful without the support of the concessionaires and other civic organizations.”

The establishment of a plant and tree nursery is an integral component of MTFI programs. Under a Memorandum of Agreement between MWSS and MTFI, the latter was granted site for the nursery in the La Mesa Watershed area.    MTFI is the non-government partner organization of MWSS in the implementation of the AMTC. It will ensure the sustainability of AMTC beyond the project’s five-year duration.

The nursery will serve as support and production arm where seeds of plants and tree species to be transplanted by institutional partners in identified watershed beneficiaries will be germinated.  About 500,000 saplings of narra (Pterocarpus indicus), ylang ylang (Cananga odorata), and bamboo, among others will initially be produced.

According to MTFI President and Executive Director Melandrew T. Velasco, the nursery is very important in helping the watersheds and planting of trees in terms of rehabilitating the seven critical watersheds areas. “Tree-planting within the watersheds is critical because if there are no trees in the mountains, our water treatment plants would have to deal with a high amount of turbidity when it rains. “There is so much to be done, and we will not stop working. We are excited about the next five or ten years as we will see how this nursery becomes the center of activity of our advocacy,”

As outgoing Chairman and OIC Administrator Velasco ends his tour of duty at the water agency, he will be busy with the Philippine National Police Retirees Association, Inc. (PRAI) which is seeking a seat at the House of Representatives in the May 2022 elections. He is the number one nominee of PRAI, an organization working for the benefit and welfare of all retired men and women in the uniformed service of the PNP and their dependents.

MWSS Chairman and Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco (4th from right) from (L-R) Prime Infrastructure Holdings Corporation official Melvin Tan, MWSS RO ADA Christopher Chuegan, Santa Clara International Corporation founder Nick Linao, MTFI President and Executive Director Melandrew Velasco, Manila Water Corporation President J.V Emmanuel de Dios, Gen Rey Velasco, incoming MWSS Administrator Leonor “Bobby” Cleofas, Maynilad President Ramoncito S. Fernandez and Bulacan Bulk Water head of operations Emman Avengoza