By Charmaine A. Tadalan, October 28 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Business Mirror

A MEASURE deemed priority by the current administration and business groups that will improve the use of land and resources has been filed anew in Congress.

Senate Bills 38, 358, 510 and 886 that mandate the National Land Use Commission (NLUC) to draft a unified framework that will govern the use of land resources have been filed by Senators Francis N. Pangilinan, Risa N. Hontiveros, Pia S. Cayetano and Ramon B. Revilla, Jr., respectively.

In his explanatory note, Mr. Pangilinan said the bill seeks to harmonize and integrate “conflicting laws, policies, principles and guidelines on land use and physical planning.”

Mr. Revilla noted that there are around 30 overlapping environmental and ecological protection laws and policies on the use of water and land management.

Counterpart measures which have been filed at the House of Representatives now await action at the committee level.

Sought for comment, House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez of Leyte’s 1st district said the chamber would “speed up” action on the measure.

“We will work doubly hard to speed up the approval and the eventual passage into law of the President’s priority measures that he enumerated during his SoNA, including the proposed National Land Use Act. We are determined and focused to pass his priority bills, especially those aimed at improving the lives of our people,” Mr. Romualdez said in a mobile phone message on Sunday.

The bills generally provide that the NLUC will draft a National Physical Framework Plan (NPFP) that will guide land use planning and management at the national and sub-national level within a 30-year time frame. The plan will be reviewed and updated every 10 years.

The plan will indicate “broad spatial directions, and policy guidelines on settlement development, production land use, protection land use, social services and utilities, and transportation and communication.”

There will also be frameworks at the regional, provincial, as well as city and municipality level which will be aligned with NPFP.

Frameworks will have as general land use categories: protection, production, settlements and infrastructure development.

Planning for “protection” type of land use is aimed at food self-sufficiency, water and energy security, environment stability and ecological integrity; while planning for “production” land use is directed at determining the most sustainable, efficient way of managing land for production of crops, fisheries, livestock and poultry among others. Settlement development will cover improvement of existing settlements in urban and rural areas and ensuring that residents have access to basic services, while infrastructure development will focus on transportation, communication and water resources, among others.

Frameworks may also allow multiple land use for specific land resources for settlements, tourism, agriculture and forestry, but may not be permitted in areas classified under protection land use.

The proposal was among the measures pushed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his fourth State of the Nation Address last July 22.

It was also on the list of legislative measures which 14 local and foreign business groups submitted to Congress earlier that month.

The measure was also among the 28 bills identified as priority by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council in the 17th Congress that ended early last June. It secured final-reading approval at the House as House Bill No. 5240 but failed to hurdle the Senate. — Charmaine A. Tadalan