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Property developers seek review of Land Use Bill

(The Philippine Star) | Updated June 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - A national organization of real estate developers has called on lawmakers for a thorough review of the National Land Use Act (NLUA) now pending in Senate before it is finally passed into law.
Certified as urgent by President Aquino back in February, SB 3091—along with its counterpart bill at the Lower House (HB 6545)—provides for the creation of a National Land Use Commission to oversee all matters concerning the management, assignment and disposition of the country’s available land.
“We are calling on our honorable senators to make the necessary changes to certain provisions of the bill which, if left unchecked, will result in a slowdown of growth in the areas of infrastructure, tourism and real estate development,” Charlie A.V. Gorayeb, national president of the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations, Inc. (CREBA) said in an interview. He expressed the private real estate and housing development sector’s concern on the negative effects that the proposed bill may bring to the industry and the economy.
The CREBA executive cited provisions in Senate Bill 3091 which “defines all agricultural lands as protected areas and leaves very little of the land pie for other use in housing, infrastructure and other non-agricultural use.”
“Certain provisions under Sec. 4 and Sec. 29 of the bill render almost every piece of land unavailable for housing, infrastructure and other non-agricultural developments.  While the bill itself provides for ‘protection of the rights of basic sectors to equitable access of the country’s land’, it fails to clarify how these other sectors can have access to the same.” Gorayeb pointed out.
In the process, this abrogates the zoning and reclassification powers of the local government units in determining the highest and best use of lands in their localities which needs to be constantly updated to respond to market demands.
“Land use policy affects many sectors and we believe that ample consultation and thoughtful debates will be a key factor in ensuring its benefits for all concerned,” he further said.
CREBA is not opposed to the policy per se, but the group believes that it must be based on the principles of fairness and equity and must not be done hastily at the expense of the rest of the nation.
“We have nothing against the enactment of NLUA, the protection of our agri lands, or the advancement of the farming sector. We just want certain provisions ironed out to provide all other sectors, not only housing and real estate, equal access to the nation’s land and other natural resources.”
Gorayeb said that during the last session before the Senate adjourned last February, at least three senators placed on record that they will introduce amendments to the bill.
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