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From the Chairman

Charlie A.V. Gorayeb

Charlie A.V. Gorayeb

Chairman of the Board, CREBA Chairman, CREBA Advocacy & Legislative Affairs Committee Honorary Consul General, Republic of Djibouti

Land use bill to put national development in order

The country’s largest organization of key real estate industry players supports the passage of the proposed national land use act (NLUA) now pending in Congress to put the country’s economic and physical development in order.

The bill is the 3rd in CREBA’s 5-point agenda for housing, serving as the centerpiece of its 27th national convention set from October 17-220 this year at Thunderbird Resort, La Union where at least 500 industry players are set to converge and discuss solutions to the country’s housing concerns.

The proposed NLUA bills set 4 major categories of land uses for planning purposes: Protestation, Production, Settlements, and Infrastructure.

CREBA believes that a national land use plan has long been needed by this country. If done correctly, it will be a key policy reference for all local comprehensive land use and development plans in all sectors, including commercial, industrial, housing, and real estate.

But time and again, we have reiterated to our lawmakers that the NLUA bill should adapt to current laws that had already been used by the business community for important investment decisions. I refer to such laws as RA 7279, or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (as recently amended by RA 10884) covering all lands in urban and urbanizable areas; PD 399 limiting the use of strip lands; and RA 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, empowering local government units (LGUs) to reclassify agricultural lands.

More importantly, the NLUA must also resolve the uncertainty as to where and what exactly is the extent of the ‘protected lands’ that are banned from conversion.”

An in-depth study conducted by CREBA itself, which was officially validated by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) has debunked common misconception that the real estate sector is the “culprit” for food shortage resulting from supposed “indiscriminate” conversion of lands and pointed to the need for government funding and infrastructure support to actually and decisively modernize farming techniques all over the country.

The study showed that agricultural lands account for some 12.5 miillion hectares or 42.72 percent of the country’s total hectarage of 29.5 million. Yet, the built-up or developed areas amounted to only 741,353 hectares or 2..52 percent of the total.

The study indicates that lands built up or developed for non-agricultural uses – from time immemorial up to Year 2010 – have hardly made a dent in the country’s total agricultural hectareage despite all government and private infrastructure nationwide. Instead, agricultural land area even expanded by 5.4 percent from 2003 to o 2010.

These data call for a rational and holistic land use policy that reflects realities on the ground, covering all areas of land use including human settlements, and factoring in all development requirements of every sector to achieve a well balanced and stable economy.

Published in the Manila Bulletin September 2018

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