On The Road To A Responsible And Equitable Land Use Policy

on-the-road-to-a-responsible-and-equitable-land-use-policy-1The private sector of real estate and housing development, raised concerns on the effects that the proposed National Land Use Act (NLUA) or Senate Bill 3091 may bring to the industry and the economy.

The Philippine Constitution upholds the principle of equitable land access for all sectors and provides that “all sectors of the economy and all regions of the country shall be given optimum opportunity to develop.”

Similarly, the Bill of Rights ensures that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”

Section 12 of Chapter IV on the NLUA, which identifies the categories of Land Uses for Planning Purposes, should recognize urban lands defined by existing laws, as follows:

“(a) Lands reclassified and zoned by local government units under RA 7160 or the Local Government Code (LGC);

(b) Lands within cities and first-class municipalities, as provided by RA 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA).”

The NLUA bill may negatively impact the economic upsurge today, due to the following:

1. “Agricultural” lands are defined as “Protected Areas” (Sec. 4fff), placed under the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) jurisdiction and protected from conversion, practically leaving nothing of the land pie to be allocated to settlements, infrastructure, tourism, real estate development and other non-agricultural development;

2. Agricultural lands are banned from conversion while they are in the hands of landowners, but may be converted once they are awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries (Sec. 13);

3. The powers of the Local Government Unit (LGU) over the proper planning and management of its land use conferred upon it by the Local Government Code have been significantly diluted or virtually abrogated

4. This is notwithstanding some other administrative provisions.

on-the-road-to-a-responsible-and-equitable-land-use-policy-2Land use policy affects many sectors and that ample consultation and thoughtful debates will be a key factor in ensuring its benefits for all concerned.

While the proposed NLUA is supposedly designed to “harmonize the reasonable claims of all those who hold interest in the land” and provide for a “rational and just allocation of the country’s land resources,” the whole tenor of the proposed law neither harmonizes nor justly allocates the country’s lands, but is so crafted to promote the interest of the farming sector.

Ultimately, there is a need for a land use policy that clearly, fairly, and equitably recognizes the multiple legitimate use of land, at the same time that we all work to ensure food security for our people.

(excerpts taken from: http://mb.com.ph/Property/Creba_Speaks/10161/Towards_a_responsible_and_Equitable_land_use#.UdPgefk3CvF)