A panel in the House of Representatives has approved the amended tax provision of a bill declaring the historic Bessang Pass Natural Monument in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur a protected area.
The House committee on ways and means, chaired by Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua of Quirino, passed the unnumbered bill that was in substitution to House Bill 230, authored by Deputy Speaker and Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson.
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.
Singson said 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.
The remaining 25 percent of the revenues shall be deposited as a special account in the National Treasury, he added.
Bessang Pass Natural Monument is commemorated as a historical site where 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.