Among the many bills on housing and real estate pending in the legislature is House Bill No. 6545 or the proposed National Land Use and Management Act (NLUMA). In the last 21st CREBA National Convention in Palawan, Cong. Rodolfo G. Valencia reported that the current version of the bill, principally authored by Cong. Kaka Bag-ao, was filed on September 6, 2012, first read on September 10, approved on second reading just a day after, approved on third reading on September 20 and swiftly transmitted to the Senate on September 26.
The Constitution mandates that all sectors everywhere in the country should be given optimum opportunity to develop. It covers the principle of equitable land access for all sectors premised on the judicious allocation of lands to achieve well-balanced socio-economic development to ensure prosperity for the greatest number.
The property sector has never been against the allocation of the best and most productive lands for agricultural purposes to provide food security for our people. However, modern times dictate that mere allocation of land is not enough. We need to apply modern technology in food production which we lack.
We in CREBA recognize the need for a clear, consistent and socially acceptable land use policy that will remove the inconsistency brought about by conflicting laws on land utilization and resolve conflicts due to competing land use. To name a few, we cite the following existing laws dealing with land use.
Republic Act No. 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992 classifies all cities regardless of their population density and municipalities with a
population density of at least five hundred (500) persons per square kilometer as “urban areas” and reserves them for human settlement and other non-agricultural uses.
Republic Act 7916 or the PEZA Law identifies certain areas as ecozones under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and reserves them for agro-industrial, industrial, tourist, recreational, commercial, and other non-agricultural uses.
Republic Act 8435 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 identifies areas as “Strategic Agriculture and Fisheries Development Zones” (SAFDZ) which are set aside for agricultural development. Republic Act 6657 or the CARP Law specifies the lands which are to be used for agrarian reform purposes.
Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code confers upon LGUs the authority and responsibility to determine land use in their localities through their zoning powers. The DENR charter provides it exclusive jurisdiction over lands of the public domain as well as the power to implement laws intended for environmental protection.
To CREBA’s mind, there is no need for a new legislation since the goals sought to be attained – food security, environmental protection, agrarian reform, urban land reform, agricultural development, industrial development, and the like – have already been addressed under various existing laws. All that is necessary is simply the proper application and implementation of these existing laws.
From the words of veteran legislator and Realtor Cong. Valencia, an original incorporator of CREBA, the NLUMA Bill is “redundant, usurpatory, and over-reaching”. He asserts that it serves as a mere camouflage for perpetuating the CARP, and diverts attention from the real issues and problems on the ground.
To be socially acceptable, a land use policy must treat equally the Constitutional mandates of undertaking a just distribution of agricultural lands, and providing affordable and decent housing and basic services to underprivileged and homeless citizens. The interests of a nation and its citizens require the highest and best use of the land and the widest distribution of land ownership.
The housing industry is no doubt a vital sector in our country’s future. It is a key sector of our economy that addresses not only the problem of homelessness but provides millions of jobs to the unemployed and billions of revenues to government.