Neda accedes to Duterte desire for land use EO while proposed law in the works
The state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) will draft an executive order (EO) to put in place its national land use proposal following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for the proposed law seeking the same be reviewed and polished first.
At last Monday’s Cabinet meeting, “the final decision is to draft an EO in the meantime and for Neda to revise the implementing structure so that there will be fewer members,” Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Adoracion M. Navarro said.
Navarro and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia presented the Neda-backed national land use act (Nalua) at the Cabinet meeting, Navarro told the Inquirer in an e-mail on Wednesday, Dec. 4.
According to Navarro, the Cabinet feared that Nalua may face “a difficult time” passing in the Senate, without elaborating.
Neda officials nonetheless requested the Cabinet to adopt the Neda Board-approved revised version of Nalua as the executive’s version of the bill.
Nalua will contain the “policies and principles of land use and physical planning to ensure rational allocation, utilization, development and management of the country’s land resources to achieve sustainable development and inclusive growth,” Neda said.
Neda said Nalua will properly and rationally delineate, classify or reclassify, allocate, establish, utilize and manage forest lands and watersheds, coastal zones, agricultural lands, mineral lands, energy resource lands, lands for settlements, lands for tourism, and lands for infrastructure development.
The measure will also slap penalties and sanctions on land use-related violations, including failure to formulate and implement comprehensive land use plans, illegal land use conversion, as well as leaving lands idle, according to Neda.
Presented before the President was a streamlined implementing structure to be called the land use policy committee under the Neda Board, which will be chaired by Neda and include as members the departments of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Agriculture (DA), Energy (DOE), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Science and Technology (DOST), Tourism (DOT), Trade and Industry (DTI), Transportation (DOTr), as well as the newly established Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).
Also, Navarro said Neda had two major changes to Nalua compared to its original proposal, namely: removing from DAR and transferring to DHSUD the power to approve land use conversion; and legislating land consolidation and utilization for agro-industrial development.
“The President asked us to sort things out with DAR, which opposes our proposal on land-use conversion,” Navarro said.
“At one point in the discussion, I explained that we are not diminishing DAR’s mandate to pursue agrarian reform. We are trying to put the land use conversion policy in its more proper place—as part of the comprehensive land use policy rather than as part of the land distribution policy,” Navarro said.
“By covering land use conversion through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, as amended, the law protects agricultural lands from being capriciously and whimsically converted for commercial, industrial, or residential purposes,” Navarro said.
“Now, we are proposing that the same protection be extended to agricultural lands through the Nalua. It is more logical to do so under the Nalua because there will be a more comprehensive consideration of the principles of land use planning,” Navarro added.
“On land consolidation, the President asked if this will cover lands that are already awarded and I said yes if they are unused, underutilized and underdeveloped lands, but it will not be a consolidation of ownership,” he said.
“The intention is to consolidate the use or utilization of the land rather than ownership, and that can be done through usufruct, rental schemes, and private sector participation, including cooperative systems,” according to Navarro.
Edited by TSB
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