Climate and Environment

Marcos signs law to account for Philippines’ natural resources

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Marcos signs law to account for Philippines� natural resources
This photo taken on Aug. 19, 2023 shows mining operations in Brooke's Point, Palawan.
Jazmin Tabuena for Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has signed a law establishing a system that will provide the government with an accounting of the country’s natural resources. 

Republic Act 11995, also known as the Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System (PENCAS) Act, establishes a government-wide accounting framework to support economic and environmental policymaking, value ecosystem services, and develop measures for ecosystem protection, conservation and restoration. 

Marcos signed the law last May 22 on the celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity. 

Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga earlier said that PENCAS will not only determine the economic value of ecosystems, but will also result in better management of natural resources and improved climate and disaster resilience. 

PENCAS framework

Natural capital refers to plants, animals, air, water, soils, ores and minerals that provide ecosystem services such as air and water filtration, flood protection, carbon sequestration, pollination of crops and habitats for wildlife. 

The PENCAS framework will include, among others, a 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, environmental damages and adjusted net savings. 

The Philippine Statistics Board (PSA) will oversee the implementation of PENCAS, developing and maintaining the compilation of natural capital accounts as well as the environmental and ecosystem accounts. 

PSA will create an Environment, Natural Resources and Ecosystem Account Services (ENREAS). 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), meanwhile, will provide national capital accounting data to PSA. 

In its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) system, the DENR will ensure that the natural environment, ecosystem services, and natural capital are framed as opportunities, benefits or assets that may be put at risk. 

The National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Professional Regulation Commission, Department of Finance, Department of Energy and Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development will also be tapped to implement the law. 

Measuring nature

Last week, a toolkit called “Sukat ng Kalikasan” (measurement of nature) was launched. 

Developed by the United States Agency for International Development-Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans and Landscapes (USAID-SIBOL) and the DENR, Sukat ng Kalikasan provides a standardized practical guide for planning, monitoring and addressing threats in protected or conservation areas.

Sukat ng Kalikasan identifies six categories divided into two classifications. The first focuses on species and their habitats at the ecosystem, landscape and seascape level. The second classification is related to regulation and maintenance of ecosystem services and the social, economic, and cultural values of an area.

“Customized for the Philippine context, its objective is to appreciate the values that our ecosystems provide, so that we are in a more resilient position to manage our natural resources sustainably while achieving our development goals,” DENR Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo Jr. said during the launch last week. 

Adobo said the signing of PENCAS will institutionalize the use of Sukat ng Kalikasan. This, he said, will lead to more effective natural resource management to reduce biodiversity loss, increase private sector engagement and investment, and make more resilient communities and economy. 

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