House OKs bill to expedite right-of-way process for national government works

[FILE] The China-funded Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge (Rockwell Bridge), connecting the cities of Makati and Mandaluyong, under construction in 2021.
[FILE] The China-funded Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge (Rockwell Bridge), connecting the cities of Makati and Mandaluyong, under construction in 2021.

THE House of Representatives on Monday endorsed for Senate approval a bill that would expedite the acquisition of right-of-way (ROW) for various national government infrastructure projects.

This, after lawmakers voted 239 affirmative, 3 negative and 0 abstention, passing House Bill 5671 on third and final reading.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said the proposal aims to avoid delays in the implementation of public works projects like highways, expressways, railways, ports, and other mass transportation systems.

“The timely implementation of these infrastructures will benefit our people, as it will definitely speed up mobility and interconnectivity, which in turn will result in lower transportation costs,” Romualdez said.

He noted that acquisition of right of way in private properties has often hampered and delayed the building of roads, bridges, expressways, railways, airports, and similar public facilities.

“Let us put an end to this gridlock. Private ownership should give way to public interest and welfare,” Romualdez said.

The bill is entitled, “An act providing additional guidelines in the acquisition of right-of-way, site, or location for national government infrastructure projects, amending for the purpose Republic Act No. 10752, otherwise known as ‘The Right-of-Way Act.”

It mandates implementing agencies to explore all available modes of resolving ROW issues.

The measure allows these agencies to offer the owners of land affected by right-of-way acquisition the current market value or zonal value as determined by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, whichever is higher.

Implementers could shoulder the cost of replacing structures and improvements on the land, including machinery, and provide appropriate compensation such as for income loss.

Upon execution of the deed of sale, the implementing agency shall pay the landowner 100 percent of the agreed price, provided that the title to the property is clean.

If the affected land is untitled, its possessor must show proof of continuous and exclusive possession, including a real estate tax certificate.

In case the area to be acquired is squatted on, the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) shall, in coordination with local government units and implementing agencies concerned, establish and develop resettlement sites for informal settlers and provide basic services and community facilities.

An interagency committee composed of the secretaries of DPWH, DHSUD, and the departments of transportation, energy, information and communications technology, environment and natural resources, agriculture, interior and local government, finance, justice, and budget, and the National Economic and Development Authority director general, shall issue implementing rules and regulations.

Image credits: Roy Domingo


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