Draft EO nixes blanket ban on land conversion–Pernia

Creative Commons photo of logging and deforestation

The Duterte administration will no longer go for a total ban on land conversion due to its economic consequences, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Neda Director General Ernesto M. Pernia said in an interview that the revised executive order (EO) on land conversion no longer prescribes a total ban.

Pernia said the new draft EO will be resubmitted to the economic team for evaluation. But, he said, the economic managers will stand by their reservations on a blanket ban.

“We will stand pat on our reservations about the possible effect on infrastructure, on housing, on the possible negative effect and also economic activities that will require some space that may be near agricultural areas,” he said.

The proposed moratorium on land conversion was initiated by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to boost the country’s bid for food security.

However, Pernia said the economic team, which also includes Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno and Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, opposed the ban.  The position paper against the moratorium was also signed by Vice President and former Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Chairman (HUDCC) Maria Leonor G. Robredo.

The Cabinet members said a total land ban will have negative economic impact and prevent the government from addressing the housing problem.

“The two-year land-use conversion ban can have adverse impacts on revitalizing the agriculture sector, wiping out the housing backlog, accelerating infrastructure development and ex-panding other economic activities,” the position paper read.

Earlier, if the ban is implemented, Pernia said this will limit the ability of the government to carry out the relocation of informal-settler families (ISFs) and delay Right-of-Way Acquisition for infrastructure projects.

Pernia said there is also a need to address the 5.5 million housing backlog. Data from the HUDCC stated this includes 1.4 million ISFs.

Earlier, real-estate developers warned the government that the country’s housing backlog could easily balloon to 6.5 million units by 2020, from the current 5.5 million units, if the moratorium on the conversion of agricultural lands being pushed by the DAR is implemented.

Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Association President Charlie V. Gorayeb said the DAR-proposed moratorium will delay the rollout of housing developments by at least four years.

HUDCC data showed that of this number, around 584,425, or 28 percent of ISFs, are in Metro Manila, while 221,284 are in Region 4-A, or Calabarzon. Some 117,670 ISFs are in Region 3 or Central Luzon.


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