LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 12 (PNA) -- Governor Joey Sarte Salceda on Thursday afternoon received the Green Eco Champion Award for the Province of Albay during the First Environmental Summit in the Philippines at the SMX Convention Center in the Mall of Asia, Pasay City, starting Tuesday.
With the theme "Breakthroughs and Innovations Towards Sustainable Development," the three-day event was spearheaded by the Green Convergence headed by Dr. Angelina P. Galang, a well-known environmentalist in the country.
With Salceda were Dr. Cedric Daep, Albay Public Safety and Emergency Office (APSEMO) chief; former Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Arnold Embestro, Nong Dawal of the Albay Blue Lane Economy and other department heads.
Salceda offered the award to the people who have worked hard for sustainable development in the conservation and protection of the environment for the sake of the future generation. It was also for those who pushed for the good programs and projects of Albay as models not only for the entire country but also the whole world like the Climate Change Academy of the Philippines.
Moreover, the governor dedicated the Green Eco Champion Award to every Albayano who continuously believes in the beauty of the province and in his strength and courage to live, whether the weather is good or bad.
"And most importantly, I accept this award in behalf of every Albayano who believes in the natural beauty of Albay, in the richness of his heritage, and in his natural ability to live in accord with nature through fine and rough weather," he said.
The green economist thanked the officers of the Green Convergence Philippines for the award it bestowed on the province.
In this connection, he mentioned some of the awards and honors that Albay has received, which have been the key to the Green Eco Champion Award.
First, he said, is the achievement of the zero casualty for the past 18-21 years amid the onslaught of natural calamities in the province like Mayon eruptions, typhoons, floods, soil erosion and many others.
These, Salceda attributed to the philosophy of constant kindness and universality of human dignity.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Albay has passed various ordinances towards the vigorous preservation and protection of the environment, he said.
The forest cover of Albay expanded by 88 percent as the mangroves grew in number by about 400 percent from 700 hectares to 2,400 hectares.
Its rice self-sufficiency level went up by 74 percent up to 104 percent, with irrigated ricelands grew from 17,000 hectares to 19,433 hectares.
The province, Salceda said, is now the second biggest producer and biggest exporter of camote, has the largest pili hectarage at 2,972 from 1,200 hectares.
Aside from this, Albay has replanted 1.6 million coconut trees.
In the field of education, college scholars in Albay have reached a total of 104,000.
Its status in the National Achievement Test leaped from 177th in 2007 to the 19th in 2012.
Albay targets to be at the top 10 in the near future.
Based on the study of the UNICEF-PIDS, the province has a 0.03-percent dropout rate compared to those students who religiously attend classes whose number is at 98 percent, Salceda said.
Foreign and local tourists, he said, have always flocked to Albay.
Further, the province has received various awards and recognition within and outside the country such as: (1) Top Destination for 2015 of Trip Advisor: (2) World model in the field of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation: (3) Salceda's “The Green Economist and Architect of Albay Green Economy" title; (4) Tourism Star Philippines Awardee of DOT (Salceda); (5) Galing Pook and Gawad Kalasag Awardee: (6) Galing Pook 2008 for Institutionalization of the APSEMO; (7) Galing Pook 2011 for Health Strategy towards Early Attainment of the MDGs; (8) Galing Pook 2015 for Team Albay Humanitarian Assistance Program; (9) Gawad Kalasag Award as Best Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (2009); (10) Gawad Kalasag Award as Best Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (2010); (11) Gawad Kalasag Award as Best Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (2011); and (12) Gawad Kalasag Hall of Fame Award as Best PDRRMC for three consecutive years.
In this connection, Galang cited Albay as a model province in the entire country for its programs on environmental protection for the continuous development of the economy to uplift the life of every Filipino family.
She quoted Salceda on what he said that the threat of climate change should not be a hindrance to making Albay a livable province.
"Whatever our status in life is, let's be one in preserving our environment, now tomorrow but today," the Green convergence head said.
Known personalities like former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno and Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, among others attended the occasion.(PNA) PGL/FGS/NIM/CBD/PJN