PENCAS’ passage vital to Philippine economy says Legarda

September 14, 2023

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda today asserted the importance of the passage of the proposed Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting Systems Act (PENCAS) in achieving an accurate state of the country’s economic performance.

During her sponsorship speech on Wednesday, Legarda said it was high time to account for the country’s natural resources, a significant factor in the make-up of the entire archipelago.

“Kapag hindi natin binibigyang halaga ang natural na yaman, maaaring dahan-dahang nalulugi na ang bayan nang hindi natin namamalayan,” bluntly said the lawmaker, the bill’s principal author.

“We need to account for the food chain and what eats what in the ecosystem to be able to appreciate the services plants and animals provide in the food web,” she added.

“Unfortunately, what we do not know, we have failed to value. And we have failed to account for it, resulting in our lack of understanding of what we are gaining or losing.”

If passed and signed into law, Senate Bill No. 9 will serve as the country’s comprehensive data framework for generating natural capital statistics and will be considered in numerous macroeconomic indicators.

According to Legarda, the law 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.

The four-term senator rued that as destructive typhoons ravage the Philippines annually, damaged ecosystems have never been accounted for, even though they are a huge factor in restoring agricultural systems.

“As we face an age of changing climate and unprecedented biodiversity loss, the challenge is how we can use our vulnerability to examine the role and impact of natural resources on the economic growth of a developing nation such as our country,” remarked Legarda.

Pertinent state agencies, namely the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), had earlier expressed their support of the bill’s passage.

She also expressed her confidence that NEDA’s Roadmap to Institutionalize Natural Capital, PSA’s Task Force on Natural Capital Accounts, and the DENR Secretary’s initiatives have set the stage to launch and execute the system fully and comprehensively when legislated.

Moreover, Legarda mentioned that the United Nations has been working on institutionalizing the natural accounting for many years starting with the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) Central Framework, which was first adopted in 2012. The UN adopted the SEEA 2021 version to officially ensure its international recognition.

Legarda has long been praised locally and internationally as the Philippines’ foremost environmental protection and disaster resilience lawmaker.

She has championed groundbreaking laws such as the Climate Change Act as principal author and sponsor and was a major contributor to the passage of other laws.

Among the other laws Legarda has helped passed include the Clean Air Act, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the Renewable Energy Act, the Environmental Awareness and Education Act, the People’s Survival Fund Law, and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act. (30)