Tuesday, June 11, 2013
PRO- "NATIONAL LAND USE ACT BILL" GROUP ANSWERS REAL ESTATE SECTOR CLAIMS
The proposed "National Land Use Act" (NLUA) Bill was not approved by the Senate during its June 5 & 6, 2013 last sessions, and the 15th Congress finally adjourned.
NLUA bill campaigners did not lose time to express their sentiments over this, and published last June 8, 2013 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer a full-page advertisements containing their disappointment.
They also responded to the claims of the realty sector, and we are publishing herewith the excerpts of the pro-NLUA campaigners' response:
"..WHO'S AFRAID OF NLUA?
"...In statements, the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders Association (CREBA) and the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA) said they wanted to be heard....
The realty sector claims the NLUA bill "has become inconsistent with the very basic policies and principles for a rational, holistic and just allocation of the country's land resources."
We respond their comments accordingly:
1. On NLUA, protecting practically all agricultural lands from conversion to non-agricultural uses, including housing, industry and tourism.
The bill does protect agricultural lands, for good reason. Each parcel of land is suitable for a specific purpose. Land suitable for agriculture must be devoted to agriculture.
In fact, our country needs more land for agriculture. Our population is estimated at 97 million. According to the International Rice Research Institute, around 4.5-million hectares of agricultural land in the country are planted to rice. One hectare planted to rice feeds 20 Filipinos. This means that our country needs around 50,000 hectares more to feed all Filipinos.
Both the Senate and House bills also say that agricultural lands for protection or production still need to be delineated properly. Thus, not all lands currently used for agriculture will be classified under protection land use.
The NLUA will also delineate which lands are suitab le for housing and other important uses to help drive the country's development.
2. On NLUA not promoting balance of land use between food production and the backlog in the housing sector.
The bill clearly includes settlements as land use category to be delineated along with protection, production and infrastructure categories. Current trends and best practices on sustainable urban planning development call for vertical settlements to maximize limited land and efficiently deliver utilities and services to communities.
In any case, the people who need housing most, cannot afford any of the housing projects of realtors; and zero-to low-income families are unlikely the target markets of realtors (underscoring provided).
3. On NLUA giving practically all prerogatives and powers to the Departments of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform to determine and decide on land allocation, zoning and utilization.
The power of Local Government Units to reclassify their lands to non-agricultural uses under the Local Government Code was not taken away by NLUA.
The NLUA merely reiterates the power of DAR to issue conversion orders covering reclassified lands by the LGUs as mandated by the agrarian reform law.
NLUA did not change the rules and procedures for conversion. Only prime agricultural lands were secured under protection land use and non-conversion to other uses in the interest of food security. Clearly, EVERYONE including future generations, will benefit from this provision.
For the 16th Congress, we hope that other sectors will engage in fair play and open discussion, on the NLUA bills. CLUP NOW! wants to ensure that the needs of future generations will be sustainably addressed, and that equitable access to resources by the poor and marginalized sector will be guaranteed. Surely, everyone shares this aspiration.
We urge the National Economic Development Authority to lead the executive agencies in actively campaigning for NLUA that puts primacy on sustainable use and protection of our finite resources over haphazard development and greed.
We call on Pres. Benigno Aquino III to uphold his commitments to NLUA and include it once more in his State of the Nation Address, as a Priority Bill.
We pray that the 16th Congress will finally make a sustainable future for ALL through the National Land Use Act.
Published by CLUP NOW!, along with People's Organizations; and Civil Society Organizations and Individuals.
(Note: Anthony Marzan is the convenor of CLUP NOW! We are awaiting the response of the realty sector representatives to this, if any. Your comments are welcome. )