In commemoration of the first year anniversary of the Yolanda disaster, the Campaign for Land Use Policy Now! Network is calling for a more serious implementation of land use policies, most especially in highly vulnerable areas. The network urges the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) to give enough focus and provisions on land use in the Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP).
“The devastation brought about by Yolanda is still felt a year after the super typhoon struck. The protection of lives and fortification of sustainable livelihood are the core reasons why the government should take the implementation of the Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs) seriously,” stated Quezon City 3rd District Rep. Bolet Banal, co-author of the National Land Use Bill in the Lower House. “The formulation of CLUPs should be a major part of the rehabilitation program, not just a supplementary activity.”
One of the targeted activities of the Social Services Cluster in the CRRP is to assist 171 local government units in formulating their CLUPs.
“If given enough focus, this (land use planning) will also cover other CRRP goals such as food security and environmental protection,” explained Rep. Kaka Bag-ao of Dinagat Islands. “These are all related issues that can be addressed through a properly implemented land use plan.” Bag-ao added that land use planning is a long-term rehabilitation goal. “Its effects might not be felt overnight,” Bag-ao stated. “However, in the long run, land use plans will result in a disaster-resilient community if properly implemented. This can be achieved by institutionalizing the National Land Use Act (NLUA). We need a national policy that consolidates local land use plans and resolves conflicts on land use.” Rep. Kaka Bag-ao is the principal author of the NLUA bill which is still pending in the 16th Congress.
Elmer Mercado, land use expert, said that there should be a strong spatial restriction in areas at risk. He pointed out that settlements in high-risk areas should be properly controlled and limited.
“Before Yolanda, many people were residing near the shoreline, and the devastation could have been reduced if these areas were controlled,” seconded Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao, co-author of the NLUA bill in the Lower House. According to him, these settlement areas are highly at risk when a typhoon strikes, but since fishing is the residents’ primary livelihood, they are most likely to go back and live near the sea.
“The challenge is to balance public safety with livelihood,” Baguilat added. “This is one thing that must be considered in the rehabilitation programs.”
The CLUP Now! Network is hopeful that OPARR’s CRRP considers proper land use planning as one of the main solutions to the problems caused by Yolanda. “Since, the detailed CRRP is not yet available to the public, we are just hoping that the said plan contains enough provisions on land use,” stated Anthony Marzan, convenor of CLUP Now! “We are also expecting the immediate implementation of the CRRP.”
Last October 29, 2014, President Aquino already approved the 167.9 Billion budget for the implementation of the Yolanda master plan.
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