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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Lawmakers urge Senate to pass National Land Use and Management Act
Writer: Dionisio P. Tubianosa, Media Relations Service-PRIB
14 January 2015 09:36:01 AM

Lawmakers led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. expressed confidence that the proposed National Land Use and Management Act, designed to attract investments and "unleash" land productivity in the country, would finally be enacted during the current Congress.

"We have to end the current degradation of the country's land resource through a clear land use policy which would rationalize the use of lands and make land markets work and attract more direct foreign and local investments," the Speaker stressed.

As early as June 2, 2014, the House of Representatives approved on final reading HB 4382 and transmitted the same to the Senate two days later for its consideration and appropriate action.

HB 4382 is entitled "An Act instituting a National Land Use and Management Policy, providing the implementing mechanisms therefor, and for other purposes."

"We are confident that our colleagues in the Senate would allow this important legislative reform measure to see the light of day before the end of the 16th Congress," the authors said.

Principal authors of the reform measure, a consolidation of several similar bills, among others, include: Rep. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, Rep. Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo, Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Rep. Winston Castelo, Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Rep. Walden Bello, and Chairperson Kaka Bag-ao of the sponsor-Special Committee on Land Use.

"We should also take advantage of the growing international confidence in the country as an investment haven in Asia," the authors said, noting that since the 8th Congress the proposed Land Administration Reform Act (LARA) and related measures have been filed and re-filed without much legislative success.

The authors pointed out that the proposed land use statute should complement the proposed amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law to encourage more private sector investments in infrastructure.

One of the key provisions mandates the standardization of the classification of land use, for purposes of planning and management, into the following areas: 1) Protection Land Use; 2) Production Land Use; 3) Settlement development; and 4) Infrastructure development.

Likewise, it creates the National Land Use Policy Council (NLUPC) as the highest policy-making body on all matters pertaining to land use and management. It shall be headed by the Secretary of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) who shall be responsible for all concerns within the ambit of land use and management on a national level.

The measure determines the scope and nature of responsibilities of national government agencies and addresses the long-overdue task of determining and delineating the country's permanent forest line.

It mandates the completion and upgrading of existing cadastral surveys as well as the creation of a National Spatial (multi-dimensional) Database Information and Mapping System (NSDIMS) with an NSDIMS-Inter-Agency Mapping Support System headed by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA).

HB 4382 mandates the institutionalization of land use and physical planning as a mechanism for identifying, determining, and evaluating appropriate land use and allocation patterns that promote and ensure:

  • Maintenance and preservation of environmental integrity and stability;

  • Sustainable and just management and utilization of natural resources;

  • Disaster risk reduction and climate risk-based planning;

  • Protection of prime agricultural lands for food security in basic food commodities with emphasis on self-sufficiency in rice and corn through efficient and sustainable use of land resources consistent with the principles of sound agricultural development, natural resources development, and agrarian reform;

  • Sustainable development and management of water resources towards water security;

  • Settlements, transportation and other infrastructure development in support of inclusive growth and rural, urban regional development;

  • Improved access to affordable housing by increasing supply through direct allocation, better access to unutilized lands, and multiple use of lands with higher population densities, among other suitable and feasible land use strategies;

  • Respect for and protection of the sustainable traditional resource right of the ancestral domains, compliance with free and prior informed consent of ICCs' IPs as well as recognition of customary laws and sustainable traditional resource use and management, knowledge, and practices in ancestral domains;

  • Equitable access of basic sectors to the country's land through state intervention in ensuring affordability of land for the basic sectors;

  • Protection and conservation of the country's natural heritage, permanent forest lands, natural forests and critical watersheds and biodiversity to ensure the 54% forest cover to maintain ecological processes in the country; and

  • Energy security and self-sufficiency.