The Philippines faces a critical challenge in managing its land resources due to the absence of a national level legislation on land use planning and governance. This lack of a unified framework leads to conflicting land uses, environmental degradation, and inefficient resource allocation. The proposed National Land Use Act (NaLUA) emerges as a crucial solution to these issues, promising sustainable development and harmonious land management.

The study, titled “The Need for a National Land Use Act in the Philippines” by PIDS Senior Research Fellow Adoracion M. Navarro sheds light on the need for a transdisciplinary approach and updated data to bolster the case for the enactment of NaLUA after nearly three decades of failure. Land use misgovernance in the Philippines has been a persistent issue and Navarro urged renewed efforts to address this through legislation.

“To strengthen the push to enact a NaLUA, advocates need to employ a transdisciplinary approach and deepen through updated data and evidences the appreciation by policymakers and stakeholders of the arguments for having this legislation,” Navarro said. She expounded that by using this approach, it will be easier to comprehend the complex issues associated with land.

At its core, NaLUA seeks to govern the management and execution of a comprehensive land use system and physical planning mechanism. It aims to establish a national level mechanism to harmonize sectoral spatial land use policies and address competing land use demands systematically. Navarro expounded that it delineates clear land use parameters, outlines long-term planning strategies, and mandates reviews of sustainable land use at all levels of government. By providing a structured approach to land use governance, NaLUA aims to mitigate conflicts and promote sustainable development.

Navarro mentioned existing mechanisms such as land zoning and reclassification which provide some avenues for land use regulation. However, she noted that their efficacy is limited. She also mentioned that the National Land Use Committee (NLUC), tasked with resolving land use conflicts at the national level, lacks enforcement power and struggles to impose sanctions on non-compliant parties. This often leads to protracted disputes and the need for presidential intervention, as seen in past conflicts over land use conversion.

The implications of this unregulated landscape extend far beyond mere disputes. “Evidences of environmental degradation demonstrate the negative externalities that arise from the production and consumption of forest products and watershed services,” Navarro said. Additionally, land use conflicts within ancestral domains pose challenges to peace, development, and cultural preservation. Disputes arising from overlapping land claims further underscore the complexities inherent in land governance, highlighting the need for proactivity.

Navarro recommended that there should be an augmentation of the technical proficiency of Local Government Units (LGUs) to improve their capacity to create, amend, and carry out mechanisms at the LGU level for the rational and sustainable governance of land use. Navarro acknowledged that, should NaLUA be passed, the efficient implementation of land use planning is contingent upon LGUs possessing a high level of skill in this area. It is crucial to emphasize that NaLUA can empower LGUs and rationalize land use policies, rather than diminish their powers.

Furthermore, Navarro stressed that there should be a unified front to bolster the policy and enactment to actively involve all relevant parties in a cooperative endeavor. “Form a stronger advocacy with the participation of all stakeholders, including local governments, the business sector, and civil society,” she suggested.

“Should the NaLUA be enacted, the potential short- to medium-term impacts are the orderly settlement of the years-old land use conflicts and the prevention or minimization of future conflicts,” Navarro emphasized. She stressed that NaLUA can support greater and sustainable value addition in the economy through land use optimization.

Read full study here:


Main Menu

Secondary Menu