Press Release
September 28, 2016

Villar to Deped: Obey EO requiring use of bamboo school chairs

Sen. Cynthia Villar urged the education department to follow the executive order requiring the use of school desks and furniture made of bamboo to help develop the bamboo industry.

During the Committee on Finance hearing on the proposed P567.5 billion budget of the Department of Education for 2017, Villar asked officials headed by DepEd Sec. Leonor Briones if the department is following Executive Order No. 879, s. 2010, directing the use of bamboo for at least 25 percent of the desk and other furniture requirements of public elementary and secondary schools.

Usec. Alain Pascua said bamboo-engineered chairs costing not more than P900 each are among the pieces of furniture procured but supply is insufficient.

"The ones making these are complaining that you are not helping them. Sinasabi nyo daw hindi sila competitive, akala ko this is to help the industry and to make bamboo a more sustainable source of wood. Kung may EO, dapat special treatment sila," Villar said.

For 2016, Deped has a budget of P1.3 million for 300,000 school desks and furniture and P2.6 million or 600,000 school desks and furniture for next year.

According to the EO, "it has been established that planting and use of bamboo will significantly contribute to the mitigation of climate change and disaster management considering its carbon capture capability and cheaper reforestation cost. Further, bamboo can be easily transformed into a cash crop for farmers and community-based forest management agreement holders who engaged in its cultivation thereby alleviating poverty."

"Let us help bamboo furniture makers to have a market for their school chairs and help them have a profitable livelihood out of bamboos," Villar said.

The Nacionalista Party senator filed Senate Bill 716 or the Bamboo Industry Act, which seeks to institutionalize the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Program. The program aims to make the bamboo industry competitive in the local and international markets while providing opportunities for local employment and providing opportunities for rural-based, micro, small and medium community enterprises to flourish.

Under the proposal, the number of bamboo nurseries with quality and disease free planting materials will be expanded. Investments in the bamboo development programs will also be promoted. Continuous training and capacity building in bamboo processing will also be provided.

Incentives to investors in plantation development and bamboo processing factories are also proposed including free rent of government land; tax-free importation of equipment and facilities; and provision of preferential rates and special window to bamboo farmers, producers, processors and exporters by the Land Bank of the Philippines.

The National Greening Program involves the planting of 500,000 hectares with bamboo as part of the one million hectares of designated areas as the Philippine contribution to the ASEAN commitment of 20 million hectares of new forest by 2020.

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