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There is urgency in having a national land use policy

E CARTOON MAY 30, 2023.jpg

“Terribly important” — these were the words of the President when he described the urgency of having a national land use policy. This he emphasized in a speech at the inauguration of Pier 88 in Liloan, Cebu, on May 27, 2023.

“Allow me to reiterate the urgency of enacting a national land use policy for our country, which is a priority legislative agenda of this administration,” Marcos said. “This time, we will see to it that this measure shall be given urgent attention that it deserves, cognizant of its fundamental importance to our holistic national development.”

The House of Representatives, under Speaker Martin Romualdez, has taken this plan from dream to reality when it voted 262 against three and zero abstentions to institutionalize a national land use policy. On third and final reading, House Bill No. 8162 was approved.

“This is a long-awaited measure and the President knows its importance. Through this proposed National Land Use Act (NLUA), the government will have the tool to properly identify land use and allocation patterns in all parts of the country,” Romualdez said in a statement.

Under this framework, the President said “all mandates and policies on land use shall be integrated,” and that local governments must “ensure that their respective land use plan should be consistent with the national plan.”

Through HB No. 8162, the State “institutionalizes land use and physical planning as mechanisms for identifying, determining, and evaluating appropriate land use and allocation patterns that promote and ensure, among others, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources; disaster risk-reduction and climate change resiliency; and protection of prime agricultural lands for food security in basic commodities with an emphasis on self-sufficiency in rice and corn.”

The measure also seeks the “perpetual protection of permanent forests and watershed, and ecosystem services for the attainment of food, water, and energy sufficiency; and the protection, preservation, and development of the country’s historical, cultural, archaeological, and built heritage resources for the deeper understanding of our history and culture as a people.”

During the Liloan event, Marcos thanked the House of Representatives for the “timely and significant” approval of the bill, noting his “personal knowledge of its significant impact,” since he  “worked on the measure as a senator and chair of the Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement Committee.”

Under HB No. 8162, the National Land Use Commission (NLUC) will be created under the Office of the President and will act as the highest policy-making body on land use and resolve land use policy conflicts between or among agencies, branches, or levels of the government. Moreover, the NLUC will coordinate efforts toward the development of integrated land use plans at the national, regional, provincial, city and municipal levels, and monitor the implementation of all land use plans, including relevant policies.

Pending approval in the Senate and the signing of the President for this policy to become a law, there is wisdom and practicality in institutionalizing a national land use policy. Land that must be developed must be developed sustainably; land that must be protected must be protected with the full force of the law; and land that must be distributed must be distributed equitably and impartially.

With a resource as scarce and important as land, the government must step in to ensure that these are prioritized, protected, and productive not only to become beneficial for today’s generation, but more for the ones who will inherit the planet.

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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