SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA
Senate Bill No. 2983, Committee Report No. 284
4 November 2015 | Senate Session Hall
Mr. President, my distinguished colleagues,
I have the honor to seek approval of Senate Bill No. 2983 under Committee Report No. 284 or the Forest Lands Limits Act of 2015.
Congress has the duty to pass legislation as part of its duty under Article XII, Section 4 of the Constitution, which states that “Congress shall, as soon as possible, determine, by law, the specific limits of forestlands and national parks, marking clearly their boundaries on the ground. Thereafter, such forestlands and national parks shall be conserved and may not be increased nor diminished, except by law.”
I wish to note that despite the absence of a law, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has completed the delineation of the specific limits of forestlands based on Presidential Decree 705. The boundaries between permanent forests and alienable and disposable lands have been clearly marked and maintained on the ground.
With demarcated and properly identified forestlands, the national government can better plan the utilization of the natural resources of the country, and local government units (LGUs) will be better equipped to initiate and implement development projects and programs with due regard to the preservation and protection of the integrity of the demarcated forestlands.
Mr. President, please allow me to set out the following reasons for the need to immediately pass this bill. The Forest Limits Act aims to achieve, among others:
· A defined forestland boundary which is expected to resolve conflict among the competing uses of forestlands, agricultural lands and national parks;
· Security of tenure through issuance of land titles to upland dwellers or actual tillers of forestlands released, or agricultural lands;
· Enhancement, development, administration, supervision and protection of forestlands;
· Improvement of revenue collection from forestlands through the issuance of appropriate tenurial instruments and agricultural lands through collection of realty taxes;
· Private Public Partnership (PPP) in forest development;
· Decrease in forest degradation caused by illegal occupancy, fake and illegal titling, unlawful land use conversion and timber poaching;
· Accurate information on forest limits that will help in the decision-making and planning process of proper land use in crafting a cohesive roadmap to national development; and
· Defined forestland boundary which can be used as reference in the preparation of comprehensive land use plan (CLUP) by the LGUs as required under Republic Act 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991.
This measure aims to achieve these targets by identifying what constitutes the forestlands; providing guidelines in determining the specific limits of forestlands; creating the National Review and Evaluation Committee to approve boundary assessment and delineation reports; adopting an evaluation system that would monitor the state of the country’s forestlands after delimitation; creating an Adjudication Board to resolve land conflicts; and, creating a Congressional Oversight Committee to oversee the implementation of the law.
It is worth stressing that the delineation of the permanent forest line is key to the establishment and implementation of a sustainable development plan for the country’s forest resources.
Let this measure be our lasting contribution to our children, our grandchildren, and the generations to come.
On this note, I call on my colleagues in this august chamber for your support to this very important measure.
Thank you, Mr. President.