The Campaign for Land Use Policy NOW is alarmed by reports of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) that rice lands shrank by 48 percent
since 1980s. "From 3,649,882 hectares in 1980, the PSA said that rice
lands throughout the country have shrunk to 1,904,301 hectares hectares in
2012. This translates to a loss of up to 1.7 million hectares of rice land...
[and a loss of] 70 million or more sacks of rice every harvest season."
The article also
reports that "Melencio Domingo, a farmer, appealed to the government to
stop land conversion by preventing farmlands from being sold to developers.
'Sana po, huwag na
pong bigyan ng Department of Agrarian Reform, Philippines (DAR) ng permit 'yung mga nagko-convert ng
lupa...Para 'yung inaani natin, makasapat sa ating mga Pilipino,' said
The CLUP Now! also
wishes to clarify that land use conversion in accordance with the Comprehensive
Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) is defined as “the act or process of changing the
current physical use of a piece of agricultural land into some other use or for
another agricultural use other than the cultivation of the soil, planting of
crops, growing of trees, including harvesting of produce therefrom, as approved
On the other hand,
per the Local Government Code: “A city or municipality may...authorize the
reclassification of agricultural lands...Provided, further, that agricultural
lands distributed to agrarian reform beneficiaries pursuant to Republic Act
Numbered Sixty-six hundred fifty-seven (R.A. No. 6657). otherwise known as the CARL,
shall not be affected by the said reclassification and the conversion of such
lands into other purposes.” This power to reclassify of LGUs is often
misconstrued as power to convert agricultural lands. The DAR’s approval is
necessary before the reclassification of agricultural land by an LGU is
This gap in
understanding has led to the reconcentration of land among big businesses and
the landed elite as farmers regress into landlessness. When farmers lose their
lands, the country loses its means to feed its people.
We take this
opportunity to call for the passage of the National Land Use Act (NLUA) as it
aims to provide a national framework for land use and management. It puts forth
four (4) categories for land use management: protection, production, settlement
and infrastructure. The current version of the NLUA Bill aims to strengthen
existing mechanisms to regulate and restrict land use conversion of
agricultural lands given concerns of food security and self-sufficiency in the
midst of climate change, exponential population growth, and a fast urbanizing
The NLUA was first
filed 25 years ago on July 1993 and has been at a legislative impasse since its
transmittal from the House of Representatives to the Senate on July 2016.
No less than the
Chief Executive of our country, President Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte called for its passage twice in his State of
the Nation Address in July 2017 and 2018. The NLUA has consistently been in the
Common Legislative Agenda of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory
Council (LEDAC) and declared as a priority legislation under the Philippine
Development Plan of 2017-2022. Despite strong calls pushing for the passage of
the NLUA, Senator Cynthia A. Villar, Chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural
Resources where the bill is lodged, has yet to convene a committee hearing.
Senator Villar, a known tycoon in the real estate business, also heads the
Senate Committee of Agriculture and Food, and the Committee on Agrarian Reform.
Senator Villar to demonstrate that her personal and business interests do not
define her political will, and that as a public servant, she prioritizes the
common good over her family’s private interests. We enjoin her to respond to
the urgent request of the President, and to waste no time in convening a
hearing of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources to discuss,
enhance and finalize the NLUA bill.
We also call on the
rest of the senators to impel their colleague, Senator Villar, to immediately
take action on the NLUA, and ensure the bill’s passage.
Some members of
CLUP Now! include the following organizations:
22 Matipid Street, Sikatuna Village
Quezon City, 1101, Philippines
Facebook: Center for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development-Pilipinas
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