I am pleased to state my support for this measure that seeks to provide a unified legal framework that will ensure a rational, holistic, and just allocation, use and management of the country’s land resources.
As we know, the lack of a comprehensive land use policy has resulted to an irrational use of our land resources such as conversions of irrigable lands into residential locations, ancestral lands into mining sites, and use of hazard-prone areas for human settlements. A land use framework that considers the interests of society as a whole therefore needs to be envisioned.
A national land use policy is necessary in our ongoing disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts.
During the 2009 floods in Metro Manila, particularly in Marikina and adjoining towns, the failure of land use management and zoning was rightly identified as one of the aggravating factors for the magnitude of damages caused by the floods.
We may still vividly recall how tropical storm Sendong washed away entire families living off in Sitio Kala-Kala, Barangay Macasandig in Cagayan de Oro City. Of the four hundred households living in this community, only a few survived. Considering that Sitio Kala-Kala is just one among six sitios that were allowed to be built on sandbars right in the middle of the Cagayan de Oro River, these settlements were literally right in the center of rampaging flood waters and flowing debris.
This experience also stresses the role of local government units in risk-sensitive and participatory land use planning and management. We need to remember that LGUs are the first line of defense against disasters, and we need to capacitate them so that they can take the necessary actions to reduce the impacts of disasters to the lives of people and communities. It is important that the proposed National Land Use Act (NaLUA) will effectively direct the LGUs to prepare and implement their Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs) based on the policy guidelines in the NaLUA.
We are placing more and more people and economic assets in harm’s way because of the pressures of development. We locate more urban areas, communities and agricultural areas in known path of floods and typhoons. We need a strategy to de-couple economic growth from the growth of exposure to disasters. A national land use policy is one significant step where this can start. And at a proper time, I will introduce amendments to ensure that this measure will be an effective tool in building the country’s resilience against disasters.
In this light, I hope that this august chamber will support the swift passage of this measure.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.
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Committee Report No. 94, Senate Bill No. 3091 National Land Use Act