Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda has lauded the move to reinforce rules and regulations safeguarding geographical indications (GIs) in the country, potentially giving Filipino-made products a significant advantage toward economic and social development through responsible use of the intellectual property system.
"These new regulations issued by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) are therefore a welcome development. While it cannot be expected to resolve past controversies or halt attempts at cultural appropriation, it is a very good step toward this end," Legarda said.
As defined by the IPO, GIs are any indication that identifies a good as originating in a territory, region, or locality, where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristics of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and/or human factors.
The identified potential GIs in the country include Cordillera heirloom rice, Guimaras mangoes, Benguet cacao, Batangas kapeng barako, and Davao pummelo, and the Bagtason loom weave of Legarda’s home province of Antique, among other local products.
Being an advocate and staunch supporter of Philippine products herself, Legarda underscored the back-end and front-end implications of GIs that go beyond marketing,
"An indication of origin does a great deal more than increase market awareness and ensure sales," she said.
"People developing GIs are demonstrating nature-based solutions, and we must pay attention as they do. When people enhance their local products, like native plants and animals grown there, they enhance the capacity of their communities to address problems within their specific context," she pointed out.
The four-term senator also emphasized the importance of ensuring the integration of efforts with those of the government and other communities that would inspire further developments and an upswing of collective pride that benefits traditional and indigenous Filipino products.
In 2019, Legarda authored and enacted the Innovation Act, which requires the government to put innovation at the center of its development policies considering regional and global economic opportunities.
"Opportunity is a great motivator. And I have no doubt that taken together, along with the ingenuity of the Filipino, will usher in a new era of production that takes into consideration our awesome natural gifts and biodiversity," she said.
Last May 22, Legarda was the keynote speaker at the 2023 National Geographical Indications Forum. The discussions, according to her, are timely given the country has 'done too little for too long' in protecting GIs.
In partnership with the IPOPHL and the Design Center of the Philippines, Legarda's office also set up an exhibit at the Senate on the potential Geographical Indications in the Philippines that runs from May 24 to 25, 2023.
The exhibit features distinct and indigenous products from all over the country.