Cong. Relampagos Calls for Policy on National Land Use
Last June 2014, the House of Representatives submitted to the Senate House Bill No. 4382 or the “National Land Use and Management Act of the Philippines.”
The proposed measure, co-authored by Cong. Rene L. Relampagos of the first district of the Province of Bohol, seeks to provide for an overall framework for a rational, holistic and just allocation, utilization, management and development of the country’s land and water resources so that their use is consistent with the principles of equity, social justice, environmental integrity and sustainable development for the common good. It also seeks to strengthen the capacity of the local government units to manage and maintain ecological a balance within their territorial jurisdiction in partnership with the national government, among others.
According to the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (1975), “land because of its unique nature and the crucial role it plays in human settlements, cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. Social justice, urban renewal and development, the provision of decent dwellings and healthy conditions for the people can only be achieved if land is used in the interests of society as a whole.”
“Land should not be seen a mere commodity. It is not a mere economic tool. It is not a mere catalyst for development. While land serves such purposes, we have to bear in mind that many people have special attachments to land. For many of our countrymen, land is source of food, land is heritage, land is history, land is shelter. And for our indigenous peoples, land is their very life,” said Cong. Relampagos.
He further said, “while there are various laws existing which deals with land, there is a need to come up with a national policy to balance all considerations when it comes to land – food production and security, human settlements, industry, commercial, tourism, environmental protection and ancestral domain.”
To date, some of the laws which deal on the various aspects of land use are: Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act, Land Registration Act of 1902, Public Land Act of 1936, Forestry Reform Code of 1975, Urban Development and Housing Act, Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, Comprehensive Land Reform Law, Local Government Code, Economic Zone Act, Fisheries Code, People’s Small Scale Mining Act, Tourism Development Act, among others.
“The proposed measure, thus,” according to the lawmaker, “will bring together and harmonize all laws that have anything to do with land use and lay the framework to guide all policies, programs and plans of government on land use. And in this aspect, local government units will play a very pivotal role.”
Under the proposed measure, there will be a framework for land use planning and lands will be classified according to use. There will also be a National Land Use Policy Council (NLUPC) tasked to implement the law. Regional Land Use Policy Councils as well as local land use planning and management board at the provincial, city and municipal levels will also be set in place.
With similar proposed measures filed by Senators Legarda, Pia Cayetano, Honasan and Escudero, it is hoped that the bill as approved and submitted by the House of Representatives will be acted upon by the Senate. At present, it is pending with the Senate Committees on Environment and Natural Resources, Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement and Finance.
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