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Real estate developers blast proposed land use act

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 7, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - A group of real estate brokers, subdivision and socialized housing developers has called on the Senate to stop the passage of the proposed National Land Use Act (NLUA) outlining new policies on land use and development.
In a news conference at the Hotel Intercontinental Manila in Makati City on Tuesday, the Advocates for Responsible and Equitable Land Use Planning-spearheaded by the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations, Inc. (CREBA), Subdivision and Housing Developers Association, Inc. (SHDA), Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines, Inc. (OSHDP), and the National Real Estate Association, Inc. (NREA)-said the enactment of the NLUA will negatively impact the real estate and housing industry and other critical areas of economic growth and development.
“This bill has been drafted hurriedly without the benefit of public hearings and the required consulations with all concerned stakeholders and as such will bring all development to a standstill,” CREBA national president Charlie Gorayeb said.  “This will dampen the growth of the BPO industry and negate gains in tourism, agribusiness and other enterprise that contribute to national growth.”
The proposal, contained in House Bill 6545, was approved by the Lower House late last year and its counterpart in the Upper Chamber, Senate Bill 3091, is also likely to pass without a hitch before Congress goes in recess for the midterm elections, Gorayeb added.
Much of the group’s concern is centered on provisions in the NLUA, which bans the conversion of agricultural lands and defines them as “protected areas under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).”
For his part, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rodolfo Valencia, chairman of the housing and Urban Development Committee, said the powers and the participation of local government units in the planning and management of land within their territorial jurisdiction are also significantly reduced under the proposed NLUA.
“All previous policies and laws will be rendered inutile by the NLUA and government departments and units whose functions and programs are related to land use will become impotent,” Valencia said.
“However, we are most concerned in the area of socialized housing because the NLUA leaves nothing for settlements, infrastructure and other non-agricultural projects which are essential to national development,” Valencia added.
Lawyer Ryan Tan, OSHDP president, said government’s socialized housing program will grind to a halt along with other developments.  “We are not against the allocation of land for agriculture, for food security.  We just want a land use policy that provides equal consideration and protection to all sectors of society whose interests are directly affected by it,” Tan said.
The group said initial communications with members of Senate have been positive and that they remain confident that critical amendments and revisions to the proposed NLUA will be made before it is passed by the Upper Chamber.

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