A BILL has been filed at the House of Representatives to seek out alternatives to charcoal that are more friendly to the environment, involving research programs and funding from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK).

Representative Josephine Veronique R. Lacson-Noel of Malabon filed House Bill 5484, which if passed will be known as the Charcoal Industry Development Act of 2019.

“It is the fervent hope of this bill to (1) create and establish sustainable programs and look for alternative and raw materials to be used by the micro and small charcoal burners which will not be very detrimental to our environment…; and (2) provide credit access for the growth of the industry” Ms. Lacson-Noel said in the bill’s explanatory note.

Under the bill, the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) will establish a program to develop a technical program for improving charcoal products and processes, supported by LANDBANK funding for the “acquisition of charcoal inputs, charcoal machinery and implements necessary for the continuous production of charcoal.”

Charcoal is a cooking fuel for low-income households and its production typically involves harvesting wood, including coconut wood, which is then dried out to improve its qualities as a cooking material.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), along with the Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Professional Regulation Commission and the private sector will also be roped in to implement a Human Resources Development (HRD) Master Plan for the industry.

The master plan will focus on the skills training of charcoal burners and implement standards, among others.

The bill was filed with the House Committee on Trade and Industry on Nov. 18. — Genshen L. Espedido