DAR eases land conversion for power developers

Posted on March 24, 2015

THE DEPARTMENT of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has eased the rules for changing the approved uses of land in order to facilitate energy projects certified as urgent by the Department of Energy (DoE).

The agency issued a new set of guidelines, amending an executive order and a memorandum circular issued in 2002 to cover landholdings for use in energy projects.

DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Luis Meinrado C. Pangulayan said the amendment was issued “in recognition of the impending energy crisis.”

The previous order and circular provides that applications for land conversion with incomplete or insufficient submissions are not be processed by DAR. These materials are also to be immediately returned to applicants.

The new circular, however, provides that energy projects that have been certified by the DoE as urgent will continue to be processed while proponents are working to secure other requirements.

DAR said “application for conversion with urgent energy projects as certified to by the DoE Secretary in writing will be processed continuously...”

It added, however, that the application “cannot be deliberated upon by the Committee on Conversion unless the required documents have been formally submitted and completed.”

A copy of the circular was not immediately available yesterday.

DoE Director Patrick T. Aquino recognized that problem with application of land conversion “has been an observed bottleneck.”

He added that “quite a number” of projects, particularly those utilizing renewable energy, are affected by this problem.

The DoE already cancelled over 100 renewable energy (RE) contracts last year due to lack of progress and some 50 more are expected to suffer the same fate in the first half of this year.

The agency since last year has been strict in monitoring progress of RE projects to ensure that those who won the contracts carry out their obligations. -- Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano