Legarda Seeks Immediate Passage of Forestlands Limits Act

November 6, 2015

Senator Loren Legarda, Chairperson of the Senate Committees on Finance and Climate Change, on Wednesday sponsored a bill seeking to determine forestland limits for conservation, protection and development of forest resources in the country.

Legarda has urged the Senate to pass Senate Bill No. 2983 or the proposed Forest Lands Limits Act of 2015, reminding Congress of its duty to preserve the environment through legislation.

Article XII, Section 4 of the Constitution 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 take 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,” Legarda said.

Legarda stressed, however, that with the passage of a measure that would properly identify 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.

The Senator also stated the primary objectives laid out in the bill which includes, among others, a defined forestland boundary which is expected to resolve conflict among the competing uses of forestlands; establishment of agricultural lands and national parks; security of tenure through issuance of land titles to upland dwellers; enhancement, development, administration, supervision and protection of forestlands; and improvement of revenue collection from forestlands through collection of realty taxes.

The measure also aims to decrease 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 a more 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.

“Let this measure be our lasting contribution to our children, our grandchildren, and the generations to come,” Legarda urged, 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.