Legarda’s PENCAS bill gets Senate’s nod

November 23, 2023

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, the principal author and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2439 or the proposed Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System (PENCAS) bill, lauded the passage of the measure on third reading in the Senate on Wednesday.

The four-term senator, who has filed numerous bills that address various environmental issues, said the passage of PENCAS in the Senate is a significant milestone for the environment and the country.

“It is again a pioneering long journey just like we did way back in 1998 for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Twenty-five years forward, it is already a very relevant and timely topic. Same with PENCAS, Mr. President. I assure you the United Nations would not have utilized PENCAS in the 80s yet, and the NEDA would not have started the bureau ten years ago if it was not urgent and essential to measure what we treasure,” she explained.

Once enacted into law, the PENCAS bill will take into account the country’s natural resources as a significant driving force in the Philippine economy aside from gross domestic product (GDP) and human capital.

It will provide the national government with essential data that will integrate nature in planning, policymaking, and budgeting that will be in line with standards set by the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) of the United Nations.

The measure will empower the calculation of provisioning services — the cleaning power of soil to water, trees to air, the temperature control provided by plants, and protective services of mountains and watersheds.

Cultural services — the meanings and values of our resources guiding lifestyle, intellectual and social development, aesthetics; and supporting services — like the natural processes of photosynthesis that give us all our nourishment, will now also be given exact figures.

Acknowledging the full support of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Department of Agriculture (DA), Legarda expressed her optimism that the time has come for concrete action.

She also thanked her colleagues for their support for the bill.

“I would like to thank the chair of the Economic Affairs Committee, Senator Grace Poe, for immediately allowing us to create the subcommittee and for giving us her full support and her sincere appreciation for the work that we do,” Legarda stated.

“I would like to thank the chair of the Sustainable Development Goals Committee, Senator Pia Cayetano, for her wholehearted support. Thank you to the Majority Leader, as well, for prioritizing this measure and to all our colleagues for unanimously passing the PENCAS bill,” she added.

With the Senate’s approval of the PENCAS bill, both the Upper and the Lower Chambers will meet to convene the Bicameral Conference Committee on the disagreeing provisions before it will be ratified and then transmitted to the Office of the President for signing. (end)