Moratorium on reclassification of rice fields in Quezon sought

Published August 3, 2022, 8:23 PM

by Danny Estacio

LUCENA CITY, Quezon — A provincial lawmaker is seeking an indefinite moratorium on the reclassification of rice lands in this province.

Quezon Second District Board Member Ferdinand ‘Bong’ Talabong is the provincial board for the approval of the moratorium to stop the extensive conversion of agricultural lands into commercial and subdivisions.

“Ang paboritong i-convert ay ang rice fields, sapagkat ito ay patag na, lalu’t higit kung gagawin subdibisyon (Rice fields are easy to convert because they are flat already, and fit for subdivision),” said Talabong.

Talabong, a lawyer by profession, told the Manila Bulletin that ‘the power to reclassify agricultural lands to residential, commercial or industrial lands falls within the jurisdiction of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.’

“The effectiveness of the moratorium is indefinite until such time as to attain stability of rice production,” he added.

Talabong lamented that land devoted for agriculture in the province is getting smaller because of continuing land conversion.

“Dahil sa patuloy na land conversion ay dahan-dahan nababawasan ang lupang sakahan pa sa palayan at taniman ng gulay (Because of continuing land conversion land, rice and vegetables plantation is getting smaller),” said Talabong.

“At kung magpapatuloy ang reclassification ay haharap ang bansa sa posibleng kakulangan ng suplay ng pagkain (If this reclassification continues, our country would face scarcity of food),” he added.

According to Talabong, San Antonio is the only town in Quezon that is self-sustaining owing to its rice production.

Talabong clarified that reclassification of agricultural lands is the act of specifying how agricultural lands shall be utilized for non-agricultural uses such as residential, industrial, and commercial as embodied in the land use plan.

His proposal covers the 40 towns and Tayabas City in Quezon, except Lucena City, which is considered a highly urbanized city.

As a proponent, he is requesting the provincial agriculture office to make an inventory and account for the rice production and the total size of the land area of rice fields, which will be covered by the moratorium.