Sen. Francis Pangilinan has filed Senate Bill 256 or the Agricultural Land Conversion Ban Act which seeks to put a stop on the transformation of farm lands into other uses.
Andy G. Zapata Jr.
Bill stopping agri land conversion filed
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - August 26, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker is calling for the halt in the conversion of agricultural lands into residential, commercial, industrial, and other non-agricultural uses in a bid to ensure enough food production for the country.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan has filed Senate Bill 256 or the Agricultural Land Conversion Ban Act which seeks to put a stop on the transformation of farm lands into other uses.

“Rapid urbanization and population growth have contributed to the problem of shrinking agricultural lands. We need farmers to feed the country. Farmers need farm lands to feed the country,” Pangilinan said.

“This measure aims to protect farm lands for which government already spent to irrigate. This is also critical for food security in the country. Normally, prime agricultural lands are being targeted for conversion,” he added.

Since the agrarian reform was implemented in 1988 up to 2016, almost 100,000 hectares of agricultural lands, equivalent to the combined size of Metro Manila and Cebu City, have not produced food.

Data showed that Luzon suffers most from massive land conversion, making up 80.6 percent of the entire country’s approved land conversions. This is followed by Mindanao with 11.6 percent and Visayas with 7.8 percent.

The bill seeks to amend Section 20 of the Local Government Code, requiring additional approval from the departments of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, and Environment and Natural Resources, as well as local government units before land reclassification and conversion.

“This additional requirement before the grant of a conversion permit is to ensure the suitability of the conversion of an agriculture lot. This is timely due to the unbridled land conversion, legal or otherwise,” Pangilinan said.

Under the bill, conversion of agricultural lands requires certification from DA indicating that such lands are not included among those classified for conversion or reclassification and that the land has ceased to be economically feasible for agricultural purposes.

For DAR, lands to be converted should not be programmed for distribution to agrarian reform beneficiaries while for DENR, the proposed reclassification should be ecologically sound.

“Studies show that agriculture takes a back seat among other land development projects as it has the smallest return on investment. This means that we need to make farming an attractive enterprise, because we all need food to live,” Pangilinan said.

BILL STOPPING AGRI LAND CONVERSION FILED
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