THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it is targeting to submit its final draft of national land use plan, which seeks to harmonize sector-specific land use policies and institutionalize land use planning, for the cabinet meeting next month, an official said.
At the sidelines of a media forum on “National Land Use Act (NaLUA) for Food Security” on Tuesday held in Quezon City, Adoracion Navarro, NEDA undersecretary for Regional Development, told reporters that NEDA board’s National Land Use Committee (NLUC) was already fast tracking the compilations of endorsements from all existing cabinet clusters.
“There are six [clusters]. We have already secured the endorsements of the cabinet cluster on climate change adaption, mitigation and disaster risk reduction, [as well as] human development and poverty reduction,” she said.
This means the NEDA board has yet to receive endorsements from four other cabinet clusters namely, participatory governance, infrastructure, security, justice and peace, and economic development.
Navarro said NEDA remained hopeful the proposed NaLUA would be passed in the 18th Congress or before the year ends.
From the 10th to the 17th Congress, various versions of the NaLUA bill underwent deliberations, but none of them hurdled the final approval stage. There are 12 NaLUA bills that have been so far filed in the House of Representatives and four in the Senate in the current Congress.
In his last State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte appealed to all legislators to “immediately pass the NaLUA to ensure the rational and sustainable use of our land and our physical resources, given the competing needs of food security, housing, businesses and environmental conservation”.
Among the salient points of the draft of the NEDA board’s National Land Use Committee are the establishment of an institutional mechanism that will formulate, review, adopt, approve and update the physical framework and land use plans at the national, regional and local levels. Specifically, it calls for the establishment of an implementing structure including a national land use council and a regional/provincial/city/municipal land use policy committee.
The NaLUA advocacy was initiated by the NLUC in 1995, under the term of then President Fidel Ramos, to provide a legal basis for the formulation of the National Framework for Physical Planning (NFPP).
Currently, land use and classification are determined in large part by local government units (LGUs), as vested upon them by Section 20 of the Local Government Code to reclassify lands.
The passage of NaLUA will pave the way in ensuring a food-secure Philippines, according to a lawyer Patrick Velez, parliamentary consultant at United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization — Philippines.
He said the fast-growing population requires the government to directly address it by increasing the country’s food production capacity.
“[The] production of food requires the use of land, but we also understand that there are other policies regarding [other] use[s] of lands. It’s looking at a framework that will allow us to maximize the use of these limited resources including enhancement of food production…,” Velez said.
“It is tied also with population [that when it] increases, we also need to increase our food capacity and food access. These are the things that we want to look into so therefore the relationship between land use and food security is there. It cannot be divorced from each other,” he added.
Furthermore, Velez said the NaLUA could also push for a creation of a food security framework, which has not been largely given focus by legislators in the past years. Doing so could lead to an inclusive value chain management of agriculture and food, he said.
“It’s been 20 years. We hope that understanding would push us toward this direction. It’s quite difficult as there are some sectors that out of unfamiliarity with the terms take a different stance. But there’s nothing wrong with really coming together and threshing out all these matters,” Velez said.