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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

House passes bill penalizing conversion of irrigated, irrigable lands
14 February 2018 07:41:14 PM

The House of Representatives has passed on second reading House Bill 7115 seeking to penalize the conversion or causing the conversion of irrigated and irrigable lands.

To make the penalties imposable, the bill seeks to amend Republic Act No. 6657, as amended, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988.”

The bill defines irrigated lands as “lands serviced by natural irrigation or irrigation facilities, as delineated by the Department of Agriculture (DA) or the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) which includes lands where water is not readily available as existing irrigation facilities need rehabilitation or upgrading, or where irrigation water is not available year-round.”

Irrigable lands, meanwhile, are those lands “suitable for the conduct of agricultural activities which require irrigation and display physical features justifying the operation of an irrigation system.”

Under the bill, actual physical or legal conversion or causing the physical or legal conversion of irrigated and irrigable lands are committed by the following: 1) any person who directly and indirectly participates in the conversion of irrigated and irrigable land; 2) any person who directly or indirectly induces the landowner or farmworker in the conversion of irrigated and irrigable land; 3) any person who applies for and facilitates the application for conversion; 4) any person who facilitates the application and issuance of clearances and other documents necessary for conversion; 5) any person who approves and cause for the approval of the application for conversion; and 6) any person who directly and indirectly benefited from the conversion.

The bill amends Section 74 of RA 6657 so that any person who knowingly or willfully violates the provisions of the Act shall be punished by imprisonment of one month to three years or a fine of P1,000 to P15,000, or both, at the discretion of the court.

Meanwhile, imprisonment of six years and one day to 12 years, or fine of P200,000 to P1,000,000 or both, at the discretion of the court shall be imposed upon any person who violates Section 73, subparagraphs (c), (d), (e), (i), and (j) of RA 6657, as amended. The bill also provides that if the offender is a public officer, he shall suffer the additional penalties of removal from office and perpetual absolute disqualification to hold public office.

House Bill No. 7115 is authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, Reps. Erlpe John Amante, Rene Relampagos, Juan Pablo Bondoc, Deogracias Victor Savellano, Ariel Casilao, Alfredo Garbin, Melecio Yap Jr., Arnolfo Teves Jr., Luisa Lloren Cuaresma, Jesulito Manalo, Tom Villarin, Manuel Sagarbarria, Joseph Stephen Paduano, Fernando Gonzalez, Jesus Nonato Sacdalan, Lorna Bautista-Bandigan, Christoffer de Venecia, Mauyag Papandayan Jr., Wilter Palma II, Orestes Salon, Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, Raymond Democrito Mendoza, Eugene Michael de Vera, Teodoro Montoro, Gus Tambunting, Manuel Jose Dalipe, Gary Alejano, Ricardo Belmonte, Gabriel Bordado, Joaquin Chipeco Jr., Rico Geron, John Marvin Nieto, and Sherwin Tugna. | ABR