GREEN JOBS LAW: PROVIDING EMPLOYMENT WHILE GREENING THE PLANET
SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, President Aquino signed Republic Act 10771, otherwise known as the Philippine Green Jobs Act of 2016. This law was introduced by Davao City Congressman Karlo Alexei Nograles, Chairman of the House Committee on Labor purposely to put the Philippines in the forefront of providing the manpower for the rapidly growing “green industries.”
Here and abroad, the emerging trend is now going towards environment conservation and pollution mitigation. The battle to save Mother Earth is now being waged and it is truly a great honor that the Philippines is taking proactive and pioneering steps in the fight against climate change while providing livelihood for its people.
In the Philippines, the energy sector is now seriously pursuing alternative energy sources such as wind, water and the sun. Hundreds of windmills and solar power complexes are now being put in the coastal towns of Ilocos Norte and in the mountainous portions of Rizal province.
Although these alternative energy sources are not yet as efficient as the power plants fed with fossil fuel including the controversial coal-fired power plants, these windmills and solar power fields are the beginning of new industry that could help us win the battle against climate change and unemployment.
Even the International Labor Organization has taken notice of “green jobs” proposal when it was introduced in Congress two years ago by Nograles. In a letter, ILO country director Lawrence Jeff Johnson said the measure is the “first of its kind – where a national law bears the term ‘green jobs’ not only in the region, but in the world.”
Johnson even offered the help of his agency in the passage of the bill.
“We are open to discuss how we could best collaborate with you in the conduct of technical briefings and consultations on this subject to gain better understanding and support from relevant groups and partners,” he said.
With ILO’s support and that of Congress, RA10771 sailed through the legislative mill without any problem. A new sector in the labor market has been created that Nograles describes it as “next big thing” in the government’s effort to provide employment for the people.
Nograles said that “after the boom in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector that is now providing millions of employment for Filipinos nationwide, the next big thing in Philippine labor would be the “green jobs” sector which hopes to create tens of thousands of employment purposely to reverse the effects of climate change.”
But then there is nothing better than providing livelihood for our people while saving the planet at the same time.
“Specifically, but not exclusively, this includes jobs that help protect ecosystems and biodiversity, reduce energy, materials and water consumption through high efficiency strategies, decarbonizes the economy and minimizes or altogether avoids generation of all forms of waste and pollution,” stated the RA 10771.
Nograles said that through the “green jobs law,” so-called “green companies” or businesses that are involved in the production of environment friendly products and those that offer services to promote environmental protection and conservation are entitled to fiscal and non-fiscal incentives that may include additional deduction of labor expense and duty free importation of capital equipment.
The law is also pushing for fiscal incentives and tax perks for individuals and enterprises that participate in the creation of green jobs, practice the use of environment-friendly technologies and produce green goods and services.
It also provides special deduction from the taxable income equivalent to the total expenses for skills training and research development expenses, which is over and above the allowable ordinary and necessary business deductions for said expenses under the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 as amended.
With the many perks and benefits being given to “green companies,” the Philippines has the potential to become a veritable haven for companies that are involved in environment protection and conservation including energy companies that uses renewable energy sources.
It hopes to see the establishment of many “green investments” in the Philippines such as those that are involved in the production of electric vehicles, solar panels, water recycling plants, eco-products and even organic farming, and eco-tourism.
Under this measure, Department of Labor and Employment is also tasked to create a national green jobs human resource development plan, which will sustain the transition into a green economy.
This would include programs, projects, and activities pertaining to basic, higher and technical vocational education and training in the field of green technology. It would also create a database that identifies and links green job opportunities with private and public entities.
The measure also seeks to delegate the Secretary of Labor and Employment as an additional member of the Climate Change Commission, as well as mandates the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to design and implement the appropriate curriculum in support of the green economy.
BERNIE G. MIAQUE is the publisher and a columnist of Trade In Magazine, Chairman of BGM Marketing & General Services Corporation which handles businesses in various industries.