SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House committee on natural resources chaired by Rep. Arnel Ty (Party-list, LPGMA) has approved House Bill 6625 which seeks to promote the development of the Philippine bamboo industry by streamlining policies that restrict its growth.
The proposed measure entitled: “An Act Classifying Bamboo As An Unregulated Forest Product And For Other Purposes” aims to encourage investments in the establishment of bamboo plantations and processing facilities. It also aims to provide sustainable livelihood to communities in rural areas.
Rep. Deogracias Victor Savellano (1st District, Ilocos Sur), principal author of the bill, said the bamboo industry in the country cannot attain its potential in increasing exports, providing employment, contributing to economic development and community livelihood because it is hampered by the insufficiency of raw materials.
Savellano said the demand for bamboo and bamboo products has been rising steadily over the past decade and is expected to increase further.
“This has been partly due to the declining supply of wood and bamboo, which has taken its place in various uses such as in construction, manufacture of furniture and handicrafts, and as raw material for pulp and paper,” he said.
Savellano said the private sector is not investing in bamboo plantation development and farmers are not planting new clumps because of current policies of government toward bamboo in particular and other forest products in general.
He explained the present law, Presidential Decree (PD) No. 705, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code, classified bamboo as a forest product.
Savellano further explained that DENR AO No. 07-1994 requires that bamboo harvested in public lands should have a Certificate of Origin (CO) to be able to be transported outside of the province.
“For bamboo harvested from private lands a Certificate of Verification (CV) issued by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) is required,” he said.
Savellano said prior to issuance of a CV, an inventory of the bamboo resources in the private land is conducted by the CENRO even for only a few clumps to be harvested.
He said often the inventory is delayed because of the absence of personnel from CENRO to conduct the inventory.
“Furthermore, the farmers who need a CV have to travel to the CENRO which is a distance from their residences causing them to incur expenses they could hardly afford,” he remarked.
Under the bill, bamboo clumps, whether planted or grown naturally in forest lands or in private lands, are deregulated hence, harvest and transport of bamboo clumps shall no longer require any permit from any government agency.
It tasks the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to grant to qualified applicants concessions for the harvest of naturally growing bamboo in forest lands outside of tenured areas.
On the other hand, tenure holders of forest lands are authorized to harvest naturally growing bamboo within their tenured areas provided that bamboo harvesting is made part of the tenure holder’s resource use or resource management plan.
Meanwhile, incentives provided under PD 705 and inclusion in the Investments Priorities Plan (PPP) of the government shall be granted to bamboo plantations in forest lands or in private lands.
The bill grants plantation grown bamboo in forest lands and in private lands free from forest charges while naturally grown bamboo harvested from forest lands shall be assessed with the corresponding fees and charges as provided in RA 7161 entitled “An Act Incorporating Certain Sections Of The National Internal Revenue Code Of 1977, As Amended, To Presidential Decree No. 705, As Amended, Otherwise Known As The "Revised Forestry Code Of The Philippines", And Providing Amendments Thereto By Increasing The Forest Charges On Timber And Other Forest Products”.
Other authors of the bill are Ty and Rep. Maria Vida Espinosa Bravo (1st District, Masbate). / MVIP