Published on November 30, 2013, Manila Standard Today Online:

Written by Roger M. Garcia

The Subdivision and Housing Association (SHDA), the country’s largest association of private developers recently urged Congress to allow participation of the country’s real estate industry stakeholders in the final drafting of the revived National Land Use Bill and Management Act (NLUMA).

SHDA has recommended involving technical and multi-industry representatives from tourism, retail, education, services, local business and even parks planners including land developers, builders and other equally important stakeholders of the real property and infrastructure development sector.

Currently, there are two pending versions of the National Land Use Bill, namely HB 108 and 3122, wherein both seek to manage and develop the country’s land and water resources.

In a statement to MST, the group said that “similarly important to consider in Land Use Law is to balance the use and considerations of landfor residential, commercial, tourism, logistics, education, parks, and other community needs and visions, and not be defined necessarily by just a single use or sector consistently as the highest priority”.

“The bill gives too few, and even no representation in certain instances, from much-needed business and technical and other sectors who should be able to share their inputs,” said Paul Tanchi, SHDA President.

“To ensure a more practical, efficient and balanced land use planning, all significant stakeholders including the developers, private professional planning and business sectors and others must be represented.”Tanchi added.

Industry players have earlier pressed for Congress to consider in the pending Bills filed in Congress to likewise “look at maintaining and preserving environmental stability, sustainable use of natural resources, disaster risk reduction and climate risk-based planning, among a number of goals”.

With the country reeling from natural disasters, endless traffic bottlenecks, increased squatting, and floods—the expertise of urban planners, developer, experienced planning engineers, and logistics experts in land use and physical planning— are vital to environmental sustainability and national productivity.

The bills will create a number of planning bodies to achieve these goals, including the National Land Use Policy Council (NLUPC) or Commission, deemed the highest policy-making body for land use.

This body at the national level will be composed of several cabinet members and agency heads, and eight sectoral representatives from the urban poor, peasants, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples, as part of the basic sectors directly involved in land use but no representation from business.

SHDA meanwhile said that said “it fully supports the passage of the bill, its environmental planning, its consideration of agriculture and social-concern thru representatives, but has proposed a few enhancements.

“Aside from increasing private sector involvement in land use planning, we also recommend that on top of the visionary time frame of 30 years we need a timeline of at least 10 years for implementation work plans for the National Physical Framework Plan, with 5-year reviews for adjustments where warranted, and the inclusion of the Anti-Red Tape Law in getting clearances for land development.

Penalties should deter abuses and negligences but not be disproportionate or counter sound practical policy,” said George Siy, SHDA Board Governor-Legislative Concerns.

The two pending bills were the subject of a technical working group meeting under the Special Committee on Land Use.