Around 500 green advocates from the Campaign for Land Use Policy Now network (CLUP Now) and its members and allies surrounded the Quezon Memorial Circle today with seven simultaneous mass actions all calling on President Noynoy Aquino to include the passage of the National Land Use Act in his 4th State of the Nation Address.
Today, CLUP Now! and its member and ally networks from Pambansang Kalipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan, Pangisda Pilipinas, Urban Land Reform Movement, AR Now!, Alyansa Tigil Mina, and the Forest Resources Bill Network held a “GREEN MARCH” to call on President Aquino to once again certify the NLUA as an urgent bill as he did in the 15th Congress.
The different networks marched through seven stations from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Mining and Geosciences Bureau, Quezon City Hall finally ending at the National Housing Authority. They made pitstops at each agency to demand their support for the protection of our lands and natural resources from other uses for future generations.
“Nandito kami para idiin sa mga ahensya na nagpapatupad ng batas para pangalagaan at isaayos ang tamang gamit ng ating mga lupa at likas na yaman na ang kanilang ginagawa ay Magkaugnay. Ang epekto ng kawalan ng maayos na balangkas sa paggamit ng kalupaan ay katumbas ng kamatayan sa kalupaan at pangisdaan,” stressed Ka Ruperto Aleroza of Pamabansang Kalipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan.
CLUP Now convenor Mary Claire Demaisip warned that the Philippines is at the mercy of climate forces more than ever. She said that proper land use planning plays a critical part in reducing disaster risks by delineating geohazard areas and identifying safer areas for settlement and infrastructure.
“Of the 26 municipalities devastated by Yolanda, 13 have no Comprehensive Land Use Plans while eight need updating. Had there been proper land use planning in these areas, structures could have been located in safer places and more lives could have been saved. Mangrove forests could have been conserved to help block the storm surge,” Demaisip remarked.
Aside from climate change, rampant land conversion from farmlands or forests to real estate, tourism, industrial uses and mining, among others, add more pressure to the use of our finite land, forests and water resources for a growing population.
Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat and Rep. Jorge B. Banal, co-authors of the NLUA bill or HB 4382 in the Lower House, joined the CLUP Now groups in calling on the President to certify the NLUA as urgent.
“I believe that the NLUA will help present and future Filipinos adapt to climate change and have secure and safer settlements. It will also strengthen our country’s mechanisms in ensuring sufficient food and livelihood for all and protecting our threatened environmental resources,” said Baguilat of the lone district of Ifugao.
Meanwhile, Rep. Banal of Quezon City said that local governments have a crucial role in achieving proper land use planning of areas for protection, production, settlements and infrastructure. He said that urban expansion should be done while carefully considering the other needs for land to sustain food security and environmental ecosystems.
The CLUP Now networks have banded together in support of NLUA to emphasize 7 critical areas of concern that the National land use act can help address:1. Physical planning before development and investment planning The NLUA stresses the need for local governments to complete land use physical planning to identify and secure their protection areas first before making their development and investment plans.
2. Access for Small Fishers and Settlement – The NLUA supports better access of small fisherfolk to municipal waters and implementation of fisherfolk settlements as stated in the Fisheries Code.
3. Protect prime agricultural land – The NLUA gives primacy to the protection of prime agricultural land from conversion to other uses to ensure food security for future generations. We have around 4 million areas still planted to rice which can feed some 87 million Filipinos (Rappler.com, 2010). The current hectarage planted to rice should either be maintained or increased.
4. Protect environmentally-critical areas for climate mitigation – The NLUA reinforces protection of our forests and biodiversity to maintain environmental systems that are essential for life and sustainable development. Several cases proved that mangrove forests, lowland forests and other healthy forests have cushioned the devastating impact of superstorm Yolanda that saved lives and properties.
Other extractive activities on our natural resources, such as mining, should likewise be reviewed as they might permanently harm environmentally-critical areas that have significant impact on climate mitigation. As such, we support the passage of the other Green Bills in Congress (Forest Resources Bill and the Alternative Minerals Management Bill) that aim to protect these critical areas.
5. Ancestral domains as a separate planning domain – The NLUA distinguishes ancestral domains as a planning territory separate from public and private domains. It respects sustainable traditional resource rights of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) to their ancestral domains, and their right to plan for these areas in compliance with their free and prior informed consent (FPIC).
6. Ensure safe and secure settlements for all – With climate disasters on the rise, geohazard and disaster risk areas need to be immediately determined and resettlement of occupants should be done wherever possible. For housing projects, especially for the urban poor, NLUA supports in-city relocation, which does not take informal settlers too far away from their source of employment or education.
7. Clarify guidelines for doing and implementing land use planning from the national to the local levels – The resulting National Physical Framework Plan from the NLUA will guide the LGUs in undertaking land allocation and use planning in a rational, comprehensive and just manner. The development plan in the area to be based on the city or municipality’s physical plan is then hoped to make the local governments more responsive to the needs of their communities, and thus bring about a better quality of life for their constituents.