By Ali G. Macabalang
KIDAPAWAN CITY – Senatorial candidate Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol has urged the Philippine-born Eagles fraternity to oblige its six million members in planting trees to help combat global climate change, reforest the countryside, and protect the habitats of the bird symbolizing the fast growing national organization.
Piñol, a former secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Mindanao Development Authority chairman, made the call in a proposal he raised as keynote speaker on Monday night in General Santos City of officers and members of the Eagles fraternity in Region 12 or Central Mindanao.
At the meeting, he said, “I asked members of the different chapters belonging to the Central Mindanao Region under Eagle Eddie Delima what had they done or contributed to the protection of the Eagle which symbolizes the fraternity.”
A former veteran journalist-turned mayor, governor and vice governor in North Cotabato, Piñol believed the answer to his question was negative. He joined the fraternity when he served as guest of honor and speaker at the chartering of the Metro Valencia Eagles Club in Valencia City Bukidnon late last year.
“I warned the (fraternity) members and officers that unless an immediate and concerted effort is done, the remaining 6% of the national forests of the country, the habitat of the Philippine Eagle, could be gone in the next few years.”
The lull would not only lead to the extinction of the Philippine Eagles but also threaten food security as well as climate change and environmental preservation in the country, Piñol said in his social media post.
He said the “Philippine-born fraternal order has actually grown by leaps and bounds over the years with its members now numbering six million composed mainly of professionals, public servants and leaders of the communities.”
“I proposed a five-year program to be led by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles where every member of the fraternity would be obligated to plant 100 bamboo, fruit trees or native trees every year,” he said.
He asked the National President of the Regional Governors, Eagle Larry Franco, to submit to the fraternity’s national leadership my proposal for the Philippine Eagles “to support the Green Philippines Advocacy” he espouses for more than four decades.
If adopted and carried out, he said, the proposal would redound to planting by the fraternity alone of three billion trees in five year.
This would make the Fraternal Order of the Eagles as “the first organization in the country to lead the Greening of the Philippines,” he said.
He said his proposal was “received enthusiastically” by the Eagles members and officers in Central Mindanao whom he described as pledging to take up the plan with the fraternity’s national leadership promptly.
Piñol is a pioneer member of the Duterte administration cabinet, named as Agriculture secretary in 2016. He resigned in 2019 in protest of provisions in the Rice Tarrification Law allowing unregulated influx of imported rice but proving to be disadvantageous to Filipino farmers.
In 2019, President Duterte named Piñol chairman of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), through which he pursued his campaign for pro-farmer strides and mass reforestation in logged-over areas in the country.
Piñol’s stint in the Duterte government cabinet characterized mostly his field sorties to immerse with countryside folks and feel their pulses.
In one of his sorties in Misamis Oriental, journalists saw Piñol teaching and joining villagers in planting tree varieties.
Piñol resigned as MinDA chair to file his senatorial candidacy last October. In the Commission on Elections-printed official ballot, he is assigned the numbers 148. He once interpreted the assigned figure as “I love Emmanuel.” (AGM)