The House of Representatives is pushing for the passage of two proposed land measures in the Senate.
The House approved the bills–the National Land Use and Management Act and the Final Forest Limits Act–last year.
“We urge the Senate to concur and pass these measures, which both ensure sustainable and productive use, conservation, development and management of our land resources. Our nation would greatly benefit from the enactment into law of these proposals which are among our priority measures,” House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said in a statement on Sunday.
The National Land Use and Management Act, which was principally authored by Rep. Kaka Bag-ao of the lone district of Dinagat Island, aims to establish land use and physical planning as a mechanism for identifying, determining and evaluating appropriate land use and allocation patterns.
It also seeks the standardization of the classification of land use into Protection Land Use, Production Land Use, Settlement Development and Infrastructure Development.
If passed into law, the Bagao bill will create the National Land Use Policy Council (NLUPC) that shall be led by the Secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) who shall be responsible for concerns involving land use and management.
The Final Forest Limits Act, meanwhile, seeks to define the limits of forest lands.
It also creates a Land Conflict Adjudication Board that will resolve boundary disputes and adverse claims that may arise from the delimitation of forest lands.
The principal author of the bill, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City’s Second District, said “without boundaries, the country forest lands would be destroyed, hence the need to demarcate and properly identify forest lands for their proper use and preservation” according to the Speaker’s statement.
There are efforts to delineate and establish permanent forest land boundaries in 52 provinces for a total of 54,333 kilometers of forest land from year 2000 to 2007, according to Rodriguez, citing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
According to Belmonte, the DENR awaits the enactment of the two proposed measures.
Based on his statement, DENR Secretary Ramon Paje paid him a courtesy visit last week while in Congress for the hearing on the agency’s proposed 2016 budget.
“Paje relayed his agency’s optimism on the enactment of the two important bills,” it said.
For Belmonte, “Our actions determine the survival of the next generations. There is hardly time or room for error in this policy area. Denial will not move reforms. We must work vigorously to ensure that economic growth and sustainability are achieved by giving full attention to these measures.”
“[T]he government should end the current degradation of the country’s land resource through a clear land use policy which would rationalize the use of lands and make land markets work and attract more direct foreign and local investments,” he said.