Climate and Environment

House approves bill giving economic value to country’s natural assets 

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
House approves bill giving economic value to countryâs natural assets 
This file photo shows the House of Representatives.
Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on final reading of the Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System (PENCAS) bill, which seeks to create a system to account for the full economic value of the country’s natural assets.

House Bill 8443, which was approved unanimously on Wednesday with 215 votes, will establish a system of natural capital accounts that will consider environmental inputs and outputs in the determination of the country's national income accounts. 

Once created, the PENCAS framework is set to provide the government with a full list of the officially designated statistics on the depletion, degradation and restoration of natural capital, environmental protection expenditures, pollution and quality of land, air and water, and environmental damages, among others, according to the measure.

The "natural capital statistics" that will be collected and assessed through PENCAS will also be released along with all releases of national economic data, such as Gross National Income, Gross Domestic Product, and other measures showing the country’s economic health, the bill stated. These statistics will be used to “highlight the contribution of resources and ecosystems to the economy, incomes and employment.”

According to the measure, the Philippine Statistics Authority will be mainly responsible for the institutionalization and implementation of PENCAS. The Interagency Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Statistics, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Economic and Development Authority will also support its implementation.

 The PENCAS bill is a priority measure by the Marcos administration.

Environment Secretary Antonia Loyzaga has expressed support for the measure, saying the PENCAS framework will "allow us to explore multiple trajectories for social, economic, and [environmental] development from the valuation of our natural resources.”

Decades of exploitation of natural resources and their poor management has accelerated the loss of biodiversity and degradation of rich habitats in the Philippines. 

The country is losing approximately 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year, according to 2018 data provided by the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

A number of counterpart measures have been pending at the committee level in the Senate since 2022. —With reports by Gaea Katreena Cabico

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