Aquino gov't determined to enact long overdue national land use policy law
by Abe P. Belena
Manila (18 November) -- After failed attempts to pass a comprehensive law on how best the Philippines will use its limited land and water resources, the Aquino government is bent to enact one before its term expires.
This information was relayed by a spokesperson of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in a Senate hearing led by Senator Miguel Zubiri last Wednesday.
The NEDA official told the Zubiri committee that a committee made up of representatives in the NEDA board had finalized a draft National Land Use Policy Act and submitted it to the Office of the President for certification as urgent.
The new draft, it was explained, differed slightly with similar bills filed in the Senate in that it incorporates concerns on threats of climate change and specific enough to be more than just a set of policy directions.
The NEDA board has hoped that this policy will reconcile so many conflicting and overlapping legislations enacted through the years that included the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act, a law segregating the domain of cultural communities and laws defining forest areas.
Malacanang is expected to forward its certified version of a national land use any day soon.
Those involved in preparing the draft, which included the agriculture, environment, housing and agrarian reform agencies of government, agreed with Senator Gringo Honasan that passing such a comprehensive law will be a big challenge.
Honasan, who was also present during the meeting, pointed out to them that in the past 20 years, Congress has been trying to pass such a law but had so far failed.
Reconciling and consolidating the land maps of the Land Registration Authority, the DENR and the DAR alone, the Senate was informed, will take the three agencies until the end of next year to complete.
Coming out with a unified database on actual land occupation and ownership is another hard nut to crack.
The Senate was also informed that 80 percent of all towns and cities in the country have already made their comprehensive land use plans. But in many cases, the zoning ordinances that legitimized those plans had been amended whenever some parcels of land in a town were converted to other uses. (PHILEXPORT) [top]