The House committee on ways and means chaired by Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua (Lone District, Quirino) approved the amended tax provision of a bill declaring the historic Bessang Pass Natural Monument (BPNM) in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur a protected area.
The unnumbered bill is in substitution to HB 230, authored by Deputy Speaker and Ilocos Sur Second District Rep. Eric Singson.
The committee on ways and means mandated that the tax provision on donations be specified in a separate section. The provision provides that donations to the BPNM will be exempt from donor’s tax. It also provides that donations to the BPNM shall also be considered allowable deduction from the gross income of the donor.
The tax provision also establishes a trust fund that will finance projects of the BPNM. Income generated from the operation or management of the area, such as visitor/tourist fees, and fees from permitted sale of flora and fauna and other resources of the BPNM, will be channelled to the trust fund.
The trust fund, subject to the retention of the Protected Area Management Board, may also be augmented by donations from domestic or foreign resources, provided that 75 percent shall be earmarked solely for protection and management of the BPNM. Meanwhile, 25 percent of the revenues shall be deposited as a special account in the National Treasury.
Bessang Pass Natural Monument is commemorated as a historical site in which Filipino and American soldiers overpowered the last ditch of the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II.
The area is also home to pine and mossy forest ecosystems. Various endemic wildlife resources of floral and faunal species contribute to the BPNM’s biological diversity and vital support system for the local community.
Becoming a protected area is crucial to the conservation of the BPNM’s scenic, cultural and historical features. It also highlights the town’s unique environmental resources and its socio-cultural importance.
“Similarly, this measure also hopes to address the different conservation and management issues that affect forestlands, farmlands, fresh water resources, and how these concerns relates with the lives in the community, resource demands and development,” Singson said.
Representatives from the Department of Finance (DOF), National Tax Research Center (NTRC), and Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) expressed support for the bill in the committee meeting presided by Singson.