The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said its land conversion rules have been overhauled to expedite government projects.

Secretary Bernie F. Cruz said in a statement Sunday that government special project undertakings (SPU) will be given priority in applications for the conversion of agricultural land.

The department considers SPUs a high-priority category for the employment opportunities they generate for local communities, and for the potential of projects such as socialized housing, power distribution, telecommunications, and water generation to benefit the public at large.

Landowners and agrarian reform beneficiaries may apply for the conversion of agricultural land for sites not exceeding five hectares.

For sites of more than five hectares, the appropriate office to file applications with is the Land Use Cases Division of the Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance (LUCD-BALA).

Certifications from the proponent agency or the local government unit (LGU) involved in the project are required for all applications, except for those concerning agro-industry.

“A conversion application for an energy project like power generation, transmission, or distribution must be certified by the Department of Energy (DoE), or the National Electrification Administration (NEA), or the LGU, whichever is involved in the project,” Mr. Cruz said.

Applications for a telecommunications site would need to be certified by the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC), or the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

Socialized housing projects must be certified by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) or the National Housing Authority (NHA). Water-related projects must be endorsed by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), or the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

Conversions for resettlement or relocation sites for disaster-stricken areas for displaced informal settlers are to be certified by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

National government infrastructure projects must be certified by the proponent agency, or the Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) or Transportation. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson