Future 'behemoth'? Bamboo industry seen to benefit as bill hurdles House

At a glance

  • The House of Representatives approves on third and final reading Monday afternoon, May 29 the measure promoting the development of the Philippine bamboo industry, as embodied in House Bill (HB) No.7941.

  • House Speaker Martin Romualdez says the local bamboo industry has a lot of potential.

franco-mariuzza-QbDXTPCB4Q0-unsplash.jpg (Unsplash)

The House of Representatives gave its final approval on Monday afternoon, May 29 to the measure promoting the development of the Philippine bamboo industry, as embodied in House Bill (HB) No.7941.

This, after 282 congressmen voted in favor of HB No.7941 during nominal voting in Monday's plenary session

"There is a lot of potential in the local bamboo industry. Currently, we are the fifth largest bamboo exporter in the world," House Speaker Martin Romualdez said in statement shortly after the bill was approved on third and final reading.

"With smart planning and malasakit especially to our bamboo planters, the Philippine bamboo industry could be a behemoth a few years down the road," added Romualdez's Leyte's 1st district representative.

The bill aims to achieve such development by strengthening the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council.

According to the bill, the State shall recognize the strategic importance of the bamboo as a sturdy, versatile, and replenishable material that can be a sustainable source of livelihood and catalyst for agricultural productivity.

"The State shall likewise ensure the integrated and continuous development of the Philippine bamboo industry through policies and programs that encourage the planting of bamboo, accelerate the development of bamboo-based products and designs, and promote Philippine bamboo products in international markets," HB No.7941 read.

Through the measure, a program for a sustainable utilization, propagation and promotion of bamboo as furniture, food, construction and design material, and other uses shall be established.

The Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council shall be tasked to create Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Program, which shall include plans of actions and projects for the scientific propagation, development and management, processing, utilization, business development, and commercialization of Philippine bamboo and bamboo products, through the cooperation of all stakeholders of the industry.

These include producers of raw materials, processors, marketing and promotion service providers, and concerned national agencies and local government units (LGUs), the bill said.

The bill will also create the Bamboo Industry Research and Development Center, which will serve as the secretariat of the Council.

The Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Program shall aim to make the Philippine bamboo industry competitive in the local and global markets and provide opportunities for local employment and the establishment of bamboo-based community enterprises.

Among other functions, the program will ensure that the bamboo industry has sufficient quality raw materials through the establishment and management of bamboo nurseries and plantations; provide continuous training and capacity building in bamboo plantation operations, bamboo processing, and product development and design; promote investment in the bamboo industry by providing substantial incentives to investors and encouraging the establishment of bamboo plantations and bamboo  processing operations; and provide skilled labor and manpower through continuous relevant capacity building.

The measure also provides for the participation of local government units (LGUs) in the program.

Meanwhile, incentives for bamboo plantation development are also enumerated in HB No,7941.

Some of these are a) exemption from the payment of rent for the use of government lands for commercial bamboo plantation for the first five (5) years of operation reckoned from the date of the first harvest of the plantation; b) In the case of private plantations, exemption from the requirement to secure a cutting permit for the harvesting of bamboo and a transport permit for as long as the plantation is registered with the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); and c) exemption from the payment of forest charges and other fees for taxes that LGUs may impose.

Among the principal authors of the bill are Reps. LRay Villafuerte, Mujiv Hataman, PM Vargas, Miguel Luis Villafuerte, and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata.