By Jovee Marie dela Cruz, November 9, 2022; Business Mirror

With government spending constituting almost a quarter of the Philippine national economy and likely to increase in the coming years, the House Committee on Sustainable Development Goals approved on Tuesday a bill establishing a Green Public Procurement Program for all branches of government.

House Committee on Sustainable Development Goals Chairman Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” C. Villanueva said members of his panel approved House Bill 1272 or the proposed Green Procurement Act.

The authors of the bill are Camarines Sur Reps. Lray Villafuerte, Miguel Luis Villafuerte and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata and Bicol Saro Rep. Nicolas Enciso VIII.

During the hearing of the bill, Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management Executive Director Dennis S. Santiago backed the passage of the measure as it will provide a legal framework on green public procurement.

Over a short to medium-term period, Santiago said procuring green will become the norm for an increasing number of commonly and non-commonly used supplies and equipment of the government.

Green Public Procurement (GPP) is a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured.

“As both public and private organizations become increasingly aware of the need to reduce the impact of products, goods, as well as services to the environment, government procurement carries the potential of stimulating the market for the production of ecologically friendlier products by setting an example as responsible consumer,” said the authors of the bill in their explanatory note.

The lawmakers said this policy, which has gained traction in foreign jurisdictions under the concepts of “sustainable procurement,” “green public procurement,” or “green purchasing” involves a process whereby public organizations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that benefits not only the organization, but also society and the economy, while minimizing damage to the environment.

Through this policy, they said, the government can drive innovation and provide the industry with incentives to develop green products and services.

GPP is a voluntary instrument. The government of the Philippines has decided to adopt this concept to develop the country in line with the Sustainable Development Goals agreed by the United Nations until 2030 and the UN 10-Years Framework Program on Sustainable Consumption and Production.

Moreover, authors of the bill said public procurement has an inevitable effect on the market supply of goods and services.

The bill mandates all government departments, offices, and agencies to establish their respective Sustainable Procurement Program, which shall take into consideration the lowest life-cycle cost of products and services and include a coding system for packaging materials and products to facilitate waste recycling and reuse.

It further directs the Government Procurement Policy Board to appoint a third-party verifier of claims of sustainability of products and services, while establishing capacity building programs for all government agencies.

The bill also mandates the establishment of a Green Public Procurement Program in all branches of government.

The executive, judicial and legislative branches of government shall implement a Green Public Procurement Program to achieve sustainable consumption and production in government procurement in accordance with the GPP Roadmap established by the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) for the purpose, consistent with the governing principles of Republic Act No. 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The GPP Program shall promote the culture of making green, sustainable, and informed decisions in government, especially in government procurement.