Key economic managers nix DAR plan on land conversion

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Key government officials including top economic managers, are supporting a position paper opposing the proposal of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to impose a two-year moratorium on the conversion of agricultural lands, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.

Vice President Leni Robredo, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Pernia signed the document submitted to Malacañang yesterday.

“We are against the ban on land conversion. It’s going to be problematic for infrastructure projects because infra projects require use of land. And also housing. And also much of the so-called agriculture areas are not really suitable for any crops,” Pernia said in an interview on the sidelines of the 42nd Philippine Conference and Expo.

The moratorium, which will be applied to land awarded under RA 6657, PD 27, and other agrarian reform laws, will prevent the conversion of agricultural lands into subdivisions once implemented.

In line with its apprehensions about the DAR proposal, the National Economic and Development Authority earlier circulated among economic managers a position paper opposing the moratorium.

Local and foreign business groups have already expressed their support to the economic managers’ position, saying the imposition of a moratorium on farmland conversion could hamper the goal of developing more economic zones, expanding the manufacturing industry, accelerating infrastructure projects and decongesting urban areas.

Among the groups that opposed the DAR proposal are the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Foundation for Economic Freedom, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Exporters Confederation, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, European Chamber of Commerce and Japanese Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

“The government should take into account that there are lands classified as agriculture that are low-yielding and unproductive.  Preventing the conversion of such lands to more productive uses goes against the principle of allowing the highest and best use of land,” the groups said in a statement last week.

“It will hamper industrialization as agricultural lands, which could be better and more efficiently used as for example, industrial parks or economic zones, are prevented from conversion.  Development of unproductive and idle agricultural land that could be better used for commercial, residential, and industrial uses will also be hampered setting back jobs that can potentially be created in the manufacturing, housing, construction and retail sectors,” they added.



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