Aquino certifies National Land Use Act as urgent

MANILA, Philippines (Updated) - President Benigno Aquino III on Friday, February 1, certified a bill that will establish a national framework for the management and allocation of the country's natural resources. 

Senate Bill No 3091, more commonly known as the National Land Use Act (NLUA), is pending on 3rd reading in the Senate. It has been languishing in Congress for almost two decades. 

Its counterpart measure in the House of Representatives, House Bill 6545 or the National Land Use and Management Act, hurdled the 3rd and final reading last September 2012. 

NLUA seeks to create a National Physical Framework Plan that will categorize land resources into 4 categories: 

Unlike existing laws on land -- which are all sectoral in approach -- the NLUA aims to institutionalize a centralized paradigm for classifying land according to use.

Existing laws on land include: Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act, the National Integrated Pretected Areas System, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, the Indegenous Peoples Rigths Act, Urban Development Housing Act, and the Fisheries Code, the Local Government Code (LGC). 

Advocates welcome development

"We thank the President for the certification for a very important bill that would define the country's sustainable and just allocation of our natural resources. We now challenge both Houses of Congress to pass the NLUA," Campaign for Land Use Policy Now! (CLUP Now!) convenor Anthony Marzan said in a statement.

Lawyer Claire Demaisip of Kaisahan Tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan underscored the need to manage our land use in light of recent disasters that have wreaked havoc on the country. 

"After being overlooked in Congress for the past 20 years, the urgency of the bill has been highlighted recently, particularly in the last 3 years, because of disasters that have struck the country," Demaisip said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

"These are all related to the improper use of land resources. Now that we can see the impact of poor land management, we really hope that the bill will pass this time around," she added.

With the certification, advocates can expect both chambers of Congress to act on the bill in the last 3 days of session before lawmakers adjourn for the campaign period. 

Once passed on 3rd and final reading in the Senate, both chambers of Congress will tackle the bill in a bicameral conference committee to settle conflicting provisions. It will then be sent back to plenary for ratification before it can be transmitted to the President.