A DRAFT of the proposed National Land Use Act by the executive branch is expected to help a bill stuck in Congress make headway, paving the way for the two branches of government to arrive at a compromise version, a legislator said.
Deputy House Minority Leader Jose Christopher Y. Belmonte said the executive’s draft, now being finalized by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for approval, will hasten the passage of the priority measure.
Mr. Belmonte said legislators are willing to make the necessary amendments on their version to improve its chances of passing. He added that the bill has been resisted by the Senate.
NEDA Director for Regional Development Staff Remedios S. Endencia said at the House that while there is no timeline for the draft’s approval, current amendments are focusing on implementing mechanisms.
“I don’t really mind, as one of the authors, tweaking (the bill) to compromise with what the Senate or Malacañang want, because this is a very important bill and it has been setting in the House,” Mr. Belmonte said during the organizational meeting of the special committee on land use at the House Wednesday.
Ms. Endencia said the draft has been discussed at several Cabinet meetings.
The measure was among the priority bills cited by President Rodrigo R. Duterte during his fourth State of the Nation Address on July 22.
House Bill No. 5240 was approved on final reading in that chamber but counterpart legislation has thus far failed to pass in the Senate.
Ms. Endencia, during her presentation, said that a national land use policy will provide better access to affordable housing, secure energy sources, protect prime agricultural land and water resources and lay down a proper management scheme for natural resources, among others.
NEDA’s draft contains a proposal for land use councils at national and local levels.
The national land use council will be chaired by the NEDA with its membership to include the Departments of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Public Works and Highways, Science and Technology as well as housing agencies.
However, Representative Teodorico T. Haresco Jr.. the vice chair of the special committee, said current proposals could be simplified further to minimize bureaucracy.
Ms. Endencia clarified that only a single office will be established to minimize budgetary pressures. — Beatrice M. Laforga