Urban Ape | The need now

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Roa Duterte stated 28 minutes into the SONA last Monday the following: “What has happened to Boracay is just an indication of the long-overdue need to rationalize, in a holistic and sustainable manner, the utilization, management, and development of our lands.I therefore urge the Senate to urgently pass the National Land Use Act to put in place a national land use policy that will address our competing land requirements for food, housing, businesses, and environmental conservation. We need to do this now.”

Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has proposed the halt of land conversion from Agriculture to Residential/Industrial use. The DA Secretary presented data showing that the Agriculture Sector loses 50,000 hectares every year to “illegal” land conversions from agriculture to residential/industrial projects.
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) revealed in 2017 that the Philippines total housing needs will balloon to 6.8 million by 2022, including the 2 million housing backlog from previous years. Land and Space for housing needs to be allocated for this.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported in July 2017 that the Philippine unemployment rate was at 5.7%, while the underemployment rate for the same period was at 16.1%. The need to create jobs for 21.8% of working age Filipinos need to be treated with urgency. Industrial/work spaces need to be set up in order for jobs to get created.
President Duterte’s call to pass the National Land Use Act is of strategic importance for the long-term and deeply significant development of the Philippines. We are all witnesses to the haphazard arrangement of our cities, and the utter economic backwardness of towns and the rural areas.

City dwellers have to contend with overcrowded houses and long commutes, while town dwellers have to deal with the daily grind of waiting for the afternoon just watching the day turn to nigh. Rural folk have to satisfy themselves with the very low purchase price of their products and the rising prices of household items. All of these the result of a land use policy that really needs fine-tuning.

The National Land Use Act has been debated and discussed by our lawmakers for the last 20 years. In an email exchange with Environmental Planner Elmer S. Mercado, he wrote “We have been at it on the NALUA Act for the last 10 years since the 15th Congress (In my case, the last 20 years). We are still at it today in this Congress.”
He further wrote that “The NALUA bill in the House of Representatives has been approved on 3rd Reading since July 2017 or a year after it was refiled by Congresswoman Kaka Bag-ao and Congressman Kit Belmonte. At least five counterpart bills have been filed in the Senate led by Sen. Migs Zubiri, Loren Legarda, Greg Honasan, Win Gatchalian, among others.”
He also revealed that the NALUA Bill “ is pending in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar. She has not called even a single committee hearing on the NALUA bill since that start of this Congress.”
He furthermore stated that “If the Senate does not tackle the bill this year or by October 2018 (start of filing of candidacies for the mid-term 2019 elections and new Congress in 2019), then the NALUA bill that was approved in this Congress, will have to be refiled, re-approved by the next Congress. Basically, start from zero.”
The President has unequivocally stated the NEED for the National Land Use Act in the SONA. Secretary Piñol, the Housing Agencies, and Philippine Labor statistics show the need for urgency. The time to ACT is indeed NOW! The ball is in the hands of the Senate, most especially with Senator Cynthia Villar, the other half of another former senator and mother of the DPWH Secretary.
If the war on illegal drugs will be relentless and chilling, then the pursuit of the National Land Use Act needs to be Purposive and Determined!
[More to come about land use and the how, why's and what's of this]

Posted in Opinion