Proposed National Land Use Act gets final House nod

At a glance

  • The  House of Representatives approves on third and final reading the proposed National Land Use Act (NLUA)--a long sought measure.

  • The measure is listed as a priority of the Marcos administration under the Legislative-Executive Development Council (LEDAC).

20220725_091211.jpg The House plenary. (Ellson Quismorio/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The Philippines is one step closer to having a law on national land use.

This, after the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading Bill (HB) No.8162 or the proposed National Land Use Act (NLUA), via vote of 262-3-0 (yes-no-abstain) during plenary session Monday afternoon, May 22.

Deputy Speaker and Antipolo City 1st district Rep. Roberto Puno, the presiding officer, announced the final passage of the long-sought bill, which was part of the Legislative-Executive Development Council (LEDAC) measures of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

"This is a long-awaited measure and the President knows its importance. Through this proposed [NLUA], the government will have the tool to properly identify land use and allocation patterns in all parts of the country," House Speaker Martin Romualdez said following the passage of HB No.8162.

"Through the guidance of the Chief Executive, the House members also made it so that the measure would pave the way for the Philippines to achieve food security," Romualdez said. President Marcos is the concurrent Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary.

HB No.8162 provides for the creaton of the National Land Use Commission (NLUC) under the Office of the President (OP). It shall exercise the powers and responsibilities of the current National Land Use Committee, which is hereby abolished.

Among the powers and functions of the Commission is to advise the President of the Philippines on all matters concerning land use and physical planning; Integrate and harmonize all laws, guidelines and policies relevant to land use and physical planning to come up with a rational, cohesive, and comprehensive national land use framework; and prepare, periodically review and if necessary, update the national framework for physical planning to provide the general framework for the spatial development directions for the entire country and sub-national levels

The NLUC serves as the heart of the legislation and acts as the highest policy-making body on land use as well as the resolution of land use policy conflicts between or among agencies, branches, or levels of the government.

The NLUC commissioner will have a rank of Cabinet Secretary, while the two deputy NLUC commissioners will be given the titles of undersecretary.

The National Land Use Office (NLUO), which shall serve as technical secretariat to the NLUC, shall also be created under the OP.

"All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated," the bill states.

"Pursuant to the constitutional provision or mandate, it is the policy of the State to provide for a rational, holistic, and just allocation, utilization, management, and development of the country’s land to ensure their optimum use to promote sustainable socioeconomic development and ecological protection," it added.

Through HB No.8162, the State institutionalizes land use and physical planning as mechanisms for identifying, determining, and evaluating appropriate land use and allocation patterns that promote and ensure, among others, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources; disaster risk-reduction and climate change resiliency; and protection of prime agricultural lands for food security in basic commodities with emphasis on self-sufficiency in rice and corn.

They likewise seek the perpetual protection of permanent forests and watershed and ecosystem services for the attainment of food, water and energy sufficiency; and the protection, preservation, and development of the country’s historical, cultural, archaeological, and built heritage resources for the deeper understanding of our history and culture as a people.

The bill also provides mandatory consultations from the regional, provincial, city and municipal level, as well as harmonizes existing rules and regulations governing the allocation, utilization, development and management of land resources.