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Do Filipinos have to plant 10 trees to graduate from school? Not yet

A screenshot shared on Facebook shows a young man holding a small tree above a freshly dug hole. The headline below it reads: “Philippines passes law requiring students to plant 10 trees if they want to graduate.”

It isn’t specified whether this supposed law is about graduating from school or a tertiary institution. But has the Philippines implemented this specific law? 

Filipino tree planting law from 2012

A reverse image search shows that the picture has been widely shared with the same message as in this Facebook post

The picture was first uploaded in June 2018 on the website of Agrea, a Filipino organisation that “aims to help eradicate poverty for farming and fishing families, to alleviate the effects of climate change and to help establish food security in the Philippines.” 

On Agrea’s website, the picture illustrates an article about Arbor Day, held every year on 25 June in the Philippines. The article mentions the Arbor Day Act of 2012, which specifically states: “All able-bodied citizens of the Philippines, who are at least twelve years of age, shall be required to plant one tree every year.” 

The article refers to a particular law that has previously been passed. But the "Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act", which would make it mandatory for every student to plant 10 trees in order to graduate, is not a law yet. 

Legislative process in the Philippines: A bill is not a law yet

The claim that a law was passed to enforce the planting of 10 trees, which also headlined in the British newspaper The Independent on May 28, 2019, is inaccurate. 

The House of Representatives and the Senate together make up the two chambers of Congress of the Philippines. A proposal for a law needs to be submitted by both of these chambers to the President, who can either sign it into law or veto it. 

A search of the House of Representatives’ on the status of the House Bill 8728 or the so-called "Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act" shows that it was passed on January 14, 2019, and sent to the Senate on January 15, 2019, where it remains pending. The Senate and the President need to approve the legislation before it can become a law. 

By law, Arbor Day has been institutionalised in the Philippines since 1947. The photo’s caption is misleading. Why? 

Because the Philippines has a law for planting one tree each year but the country has not yet passed another law which would force pupils to plant 10 trees before graduation. – Africa Check


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