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18, 2012

NR # 2866

House leader seeks 7-year tax free incentive for reforestation
To fast track and encourage reforestation which is vital in flood control, a House leader proposed a seven-year tax free incentive for tree plantation in private and public lands. Rep. Erico Aumentado (2nd District, Bohol), through House Bill 6461, proposed that trees planted in private and public lands shall be declared free from taxation or government fees within a period of seven years to allow the planters time to care, nourish and maintain the growth of trees until they reach the commercial value stage thereof. He stressed the need to heighten reforestation efforts as devastating floods causing tremendous damage to lives and properties are due partly to the denudation of forest lands, idle lands, and watershed areas of the public domain. The slow reforestation of these lands, Aumentado said, is due to the lack of incentives by and support of both the national and local governments. “It has been noted that the local government units, in more cases than not, have imposed high realty taxes on trees as improvement of the taxable land which discouraged land owners to plant forestal or even fruit bearing trees thereon because of exorbitant taxation,” said Aumentado, Chairman of the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges. He said trees are vital to the environmental ecosystem and can serve as flood controls, typhoon breakers, and in the case of mangroves, as tidal buffers which mitigate the impact of tidal action in the shorelines. Moreover, trees also can help preserve underground water, and ensure water to rivers, creeks and streams that feeds into hydro power and irrigation facilities to irrigate ricelands and, in some cases, provide potable water to the inhabitants according to Aumentado. “As aptly said by internationally renowned Architect Felino Palafox, Jr., the trees are elements of our environment and major components in flood controls as well as in wind and tidal breakers. They must be preserved which could only be done by providing the planters with incentives as a seven-year tax free regime to allow them time to grow and nourish their trees. In fact, taxes and fees should only be enforced by the government when the trees are being harvested for commercial purposes,” said Aumentado. House Bill 6461 provides that the seven-year tax free incentive shall cover trees planted in private and public lands, and also those planted in watershed areas to accelerate the reforestation of denuded watersheds. These trees are needed to sustain the flow of rivers, streams and creeks especially in supporting potable drinking water, hydro electric power and irrigation facilities. (30)