Message of Senator Loren Legarda
Yuta: Limitadong Kabtangan
Land Use Photo Contest Awarding Ceremonies and Photo Exhibit Launch
10 December 2014 – Senate of the Philippines
The existence of climate change all the more compels us today to enact a National Land Use policy.
Citizens living in settlements alongside waterways, on landslide prone areas, near cliffs, on mountain slopes and in coastal areas are at high risk of being affected by typhoons and other natural hazards, which are turbocharged by the changing climate.
According to the UP Marine Science Institute, our lakes and rivers are getting smaller due to settlements and other effects of human activities. There is a need to look into widening these waterways as a measure to prevent flooding, in addition to our seawalls, water pumps, and infrastructure designed to combat our flood control problems.
We already have a number of laws passed to address the need for a sound land use. The Forestry Reform Code of 1975, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 and the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 have all been implemented through the years to ensure that the 30 million hectares total land area of the country is utilized properly.
However, due to the presence of different stakeholders in the use of land and the lack of a national land use policy framework, the use of land in our country remains chaotic and breeds environmental degradation.
Our local government units (LGUs) have a critical role in risk-sensitive and participatory land use planning and management. Our LGUs are the first line of defense against disasters, and we need to capacitate them so that they can take the necessary action to reduce the impact of disasters to the lives of people and communities.
It is sad to note that we are placing more and more people and economic assets in harm’s way because of the pressures of development. We must not locate urban areas, communities and agricultural areas in the 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 would ensure a rational, holistic, and just allocation, use and management of the country’s land resources.
The proposed National Land Use bill which is currently under review by the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, which I chair, mandates the formulation of a National Framework for Physical Planning (NFPP) which shall serve as the general long-term framework for the spatial development directions of the entire country and provide analytical parameters for the planned allocation, use and management of the country’s land and other physical resources.
Furthermore, an inter-agency body composed of various government agencies involved in land use will be created to formulate, periodically update and implement the said plan and to coordinate with, assist and monitor the compliance of LGUs in planning, developing and implementing their respective comprehensive land use plan.
With the support of all stakeholders, we hope to enact this bill into law as soon as possible. We have no time to waste because the safety of our people and the sustainability of our communities are at stake here.
On this note, I wish to congratulate CLUP Now! for organizing this exhibit and I salute everyone who participated in this awareness-raising campaign on the importance of having a National Land Use policy.
Thank you and good afternoon.