Malacañang readies EO for land use regulation

Czeriza Valencia - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — An executive order (EO) has been drafted to strictly enforce laws pertaining to land use pending the passage of a National Land Use Act (NLUA), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said yesterday.

Malacañang earlier said an executive order may be created pending the passage of the law which is facing roadblock in the Senate.

In a briefing yesterday, NEDA Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro said the draft EO would be discussed during the Jan. 22 meeting of the Cabinet Assistance System.

“We have prepared a draft executive order and we will discuss it at the Cabinet Assistance System meeting on Jan. 22. But we are still pushing for legislation,” she said.

The EO will only allow President Duterte to address land use concerns within the limits of existing laws and regulations.

“We can only implement what’s existing in laws related to land use,” said Navarro. “We specified this in the draft EO. We cannot implement what is not in the existing laws. These include additional sanctions, restrictions and programs that need to be funded.”

The NLUA, which has been languishing in the legislative mill for decades now, provides a framework for the sound management and development of the country’s land and water resources.

The President has consistently mentioned this bill in his State of the Nation Addresses (SONA) among other economic bills he deemed as priority.

Cabinet members deemed the issuance of an executive order necessary considering the blockage in the Senate.

“This was expressed by certain members of the Cabinet that we may have a difficult time at the Senate. But NEDA is prepared to present its arguments before the Lower House and before the Senate if we will be given time to do so,” Navarro said.

“We would like to know what the main contentions are, whether its about ensuring that residential development will no longer be allowed in hazard-sensitive areas or something else. We are not given our time to discuss those issues so we are left guessing what the contentious issues are,” she added.

Navarro said NEDA is also embarking on efforts to educate the public about the salient point of the NLUA such as the concept of land consolidation without change of ownership to take advantage of economies of scale in agriculture and facilitate integration to the value chain.

At the same time, NEDA is drafting – with the assistance of the National Land Use Committee – the executive version of the NLUA that will be presented to Congress.

“We are proposing this as the executive input to legislators. It’s really the legislature which should draft proposed laws so we are calling this as executive input,” she said.

Under the draft bill, NEDA is proposing a 12-year long-term planning cycle for land use with provisions for ensuring that policies stand amid the short terms of elected local government officials.

“We would also like LGUs to take a sensitive stance to land use planning,” said Navarro. It’s been repeatedly mentioned by Phivolcs in their briefings in relation to Taal Volcano,” said Navarro.

NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said the growing competition for land use in the country is now making it more necessary to have a framework for land use.

“There is also this prevailing sentiment that we are regulating too many things like land. But our position here in NEDA is land is a very scarce resource and you have so many demand for it. And that is already a signal that you really need regulation in that particular sector,” she said.

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