• Ban on land conversion to focus on agri-suitable areas

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    Davao City: The draft executive order (EO) banning land conversion is now subject to modification after members of the Cabinet agreed it should focus on land areas suitable for agriculture, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in forum here Tuesday.

    “We economic managers, including the Vice President, have made observations. We opposed that policy or program but of course we have to compromise with the other members of the Cabinet,” Pernia, who is also the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general, said during the opening session of the Philippines Development Forum.

    The economic cluster and the Office of the Vice President called for stronger administration in land use instead of adopting a two-year ban on land conversion proposed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

    In a joint position paper, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Departments of Finance (DOF), Budget and Management (DBM), Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Office of the Vice President gave the proposed ban the thumbs down for its adverse impact on the economy – including the agricultural sector which the moratorium would supposedly protect.

    “The EO is being modified now to take into account our contributions in terms of the impact of the land conversion on infrastructure development which will require converting certain lands for infrastructure as well as for housing and non-agricultural enterprises,” Pernia noted.

    The modified EO will focus on banning land conversion in areas suitable to agriculture.

    Pernia said the rationale is that certain areas labeled as “agricultural lands” are not really suited to agriculture use.

    “And in fact, with the geotagging done by the Department of Agriculture, you know what lands are suitable for what crops and the scope of that moratorium should be narrowed even further,” he added.

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