House approves bill establishing an ‘Adopt-A-Wildlife Species Program’

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a measure
establishing an “Adopt-A-Wildlife Species Program,” designed to
conserve and protect biological diversity and promote ecological
sustainable development.

House Bill 5421 seeks to address major inhibiting factors to widen
private sector participation in conservation by providing not only
incentives but also a strong science-based framework that will guide
programs and activities.

The approved measure, House Bill 5421, substituted House Bill 769
authored by Rep. Edcel Lagman (1st District, Albay).

Lagman said the Philippines has enacted various laws to protect the
country’s threatened species, including Republic Act 9147 or the
“Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act” and Republic Act
7586 or the “National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act
and a number of existing laws aimed at protecting specific threatened
species but all have unfortunately not yet achieved their intended
conservation impact.

“These are primarily due to problems in implementation, poor
coordination of various species protection efforts among NGOs,
universities and the government, a dearth of appropriate monitoring
mechanisms and a lack of interest and participation by local
communities and the private sector,” Lagman said.

Lagman said despite these conservation efforts, population estimates
for some notable species, including the national bird of the
Philippines, the Philippine Eagle and the largest mammal endemic to
the country, the Tamaraw still continue to decline.

The measure cites the policy of the State to protect and advance the
right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with
the rhythm and harmony of nature.

The bill provides the establishment of ‘Adopt-A-Wildlife Species
Program’ to be implemented in all appropriate areas of the country
with the active participation, involvement and assistance of local
government units (LGUs), non-government organizations (NGOs), people’s
organizations (POs), civil society ad private individuals.

The bill further provides for the prevention of species extinction and
promotes the protection of threatened species and their habitats and
encourages the conservation of threatened species and their habitats
through the active participation of the private sector and all other
sectors of society.

Under the measure, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) shall be executed
by and between the adopting entity or individual and the Secretary of
the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), or the
Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), or the Chairman of
the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) stipulating the
terms and conditions of the adoption in accordance with R.A. 9147.

The bill grants tax exemption on any donation, contribution, request
or grant which shall be made to the ‘Adopt-A-Wildlife Species Program’
by the adopting entity or individual from donor’s tax and shall be
considered as allowable deduction from gross income in the computation
of the donor’s income tax.

The bill mandates the DENR, DA, and the PCSD in consultation with the
Department of Finance (DOF) to jointly formulate the rules and
regulations to implement the relevant provisions of this Act.

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