The Philippine Constitution upholds the principle of equitable land access for all sectors and provides that “all sectors of the economy and all regions of the country shall be given optimum opportunity to develop.”
Similarly, the Bill of Rights ensures that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”
We, in the private sector of real estate and housing development, are concerned of the effects that the proposed National Land Use Act (NLUA) or Senate Bill 3091 may bring to the industry and the economy.
On this, we propose that Section 12 of Chapter IV, which identifies the categories of Land Uses for Planning Purposes, should recognize urban lands defined by existing laws, as follows:
- “Lands within cities and first-class municipalities, as provided by RA 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA);
- Lands reclassified and zoned by local government units under RA 7160 or the Local Government Code (LGC).”
We are concerned that the NLUA bill can negatively impact the economic upsurge today, due to the following:
- LGU powers over the proper planning and management of its land use conferred upon it by the Local Government Code have been significantly diluted or virtually abrogated;
- “Agricultural” lands are defined as “Protected Areas” (Sec. 4fff), placed under the DAR’s jurisdiction and protected from conversion, practically leaving nothing of the land pie to be allocated to settlements, infrastructure, tourism, real estate development and other non-agricultural development;
- Agricultural lands are banned from conversion while they are in the hands of landowners, but may be converted once they are awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries (Sec. 13);
- This is notwithstanding some other administrative provisions.
While the proposed National Land Use Act is supposedly designed to “harmonize the reasonable claims of all those who hold interest in the land” and provide for a “rational and just allocation of the country’s land resources”, the whole tenor of the proposed law neither harmonizes nor justly allocates the country’s lands, but is so crafted to promote the interest of the farming sector. This we do not oppose but we strongly believe that it must be based on the principles of fairness and equitability and must not be done hastily at the expense of the rest of the nation.
Land use policy affects many sectors and we believe that ample consultation and thoughtful debates will be a key factor in ensuring its benefits for all concerned.
We need a land use policy that clearly, fairly, and equitably recognizes the multiple legitimate use of land, at the same time that we all work to ensure food security for our people.