PENCAS bill to provide a real look at Philippine natural resources

September 27, 2023

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda underscored the importance of the passage of Senate Bill No. 2439 or the proposed Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System (PENCAS) law.

During the interpellation of the bill on Tuesday evening, Legarda lamented the lack of accounting of the country’s natural resources, a major driving force in the Philippine economy.

“PENCAS would provide us with clear directives from government agencies to have the data to assess the physical and monetary worth of ecosystems, including forests, watersheds, and coastal and marine areas,” asserted Legarda.

“It’s a data-driven approach that will inform policy making, allocate resources efficiently, raise public awareness, and align with global sustainability goals, solidifying the importance of preserving these invaluable natural assets for economic and environmental well-being,” she added.

It may be recalled that the Philippines was among the first countries in the world to conduct national capital accounting in the 1990s through the Natural Resource Accounting Program (ENRAP), a project of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) has also implemented the same via the Philippine Economic Environmental and Natural Resources Accounting (PEENRA) System.

Once passed, the PENCAS bill will provide the national government with important 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.

Legarda also emphasized that it was high time to go beyond the human factor in quantifying the Philippine economy, informing the populace of the state of nature’s contribution to the gross national product.

“Our economic indicators have been nature blind. We undervalue or do not value at all our ecosystems that are the very basis of our economy,” she said.

“We measure our gross domestic product based on goods and services, and we also measure our human capital, but we do not measure our natural capital,” she continued.

Natural capital is defined by the bill as the “stock of renewable and non-renewable resources, including plants, animals, air, water, soils, ores, and minerals, that provide a flow of benefits to people and living things.”

It also includes, but is not limited to, ecosystem services such as air and water filtration, flood protection, carbon sequestration, pollination of crops, and habitats for wildlife. (end)