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MANILA, Philippines – Two more bills tagged as priorities of the Marcos administration secured final approvals from the House of Representative on Monday, May 22.
Approved on final reading were:
- House Bill No. 8162: National Land Use Act (declared as a priority measure during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first State of the Nation Address in July 2022); and
- House Bill No. 8078: 30-Year National Infrastructure Program (declared as a priority measure by Marcos through the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council).
The land use bill seeks to provide a national framework for the rational, holistic, and just allocation, management, and development of land use resources, creating in the process a National Land Use Commission under the Office of the President.
“This is a long-awaited measure and the President knows its importance,” Speaker Martin Romualdez said in a statement. “Through this proposed National Land Use Act, the government will have the tool to properly identify land use and allocation patterns in all parts of the country.”
A total of 262 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, while three others – all from Makabayan bloc – opposed the measure.
“This is a land misuse bill, because this will enable widespread conversion of lands for subdivision and commercial housing, when these lands could be used for food production,” Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas said, warning that the bill could result in more evictions of informal settlers without providing them alternative options.
Also no to infrastructure program
The same Makabayan bloc voted against the proposed 30-year national infrastructure program, citing corruption risks.
“Institutionalizing a 30-year infrastructure program will lock in public resources towards projects that will primarily benefit foreign investors, exporters of steel and cement and local partners for a long period of time. These resources should have been used to give rise to national industries producing light goods to capital goods, in tandem with genuine agrarian reform,” Brosas said.
House Bill No. 8078 – which was supported by 254 other lawmakers – seeks to create a roadmap for major infrastructure projects in various sectors from 2023 to 2052, ensuring in the process a long-term and continuing system of funding and sustaining the projects.
Rushing to pass bills
The House is set to adjourn sine die before the end of the month, and the chamber is rushing to pass numerous measures in time for President Marcos’ State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July.
The SONA is an annual event that gives the chief executive the opportunity to flex legislative accomplishments under his administration.
Other bills passed on Monday were:
- HB 1171: bill institutionalizing the “one town, one product” program of the Department of Trade Industry;
- HB 7600: bill strengthening the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines;
- HB 7767: bill adopting integrated coastal management as a national strategy for the holistic and sustainable management of coastal and related ecosystems;
- HB 7922: establishing a voucher system for poor and academically qualified students of private higher education and private technical-vocational institutions;
- HB 7939: bill rationalizing the disability pension of veterans;
- HB 7986: bill declaring August 1 as a special working holiday, to be known as the promulgation of the solemn declaration of Philippine independence;
- HB 8008: bill providing indigent job seekers discounted or waived fees in the issuance of pre-employment documents; and
- HB 8009: bill defining electronic violence against women and children.