Farmers to protest anti-people National Land Use bill approved by Congress on 2nd reading

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan sectors will lead a picket protest outside the House of Representatives (HoR) next week to oppose the looming passage of the National Land Use Bill in Congress.

Approved on 2nd reading last May 17, the HoR approved the National Land Use Bill or the consolidated House Bill 8162 but rejected a ban on the conversion of agricultural lands devoted to food.

The proposed measure, certified as urgent and a priority legislation of the Marcos Jr administration, will provide a national framework for the development of the country’s land resources to ensure its optimum use consistent with principles of so-called “sustainable development.” It will create the National Land Use Commission that will draft the National Physical Framework Plan (NPFP) that will replace the country’s NPFP 2001-2030.

“Whose interests will be protected and promoted by the National Land Use Bill?”

“What we want is a pro-farmer and pro-people national land use policy that will 1) protect at all costs agricultural lands devoted to food production, including but not limited to rice and corn lands; 2) conserve, protect and improve our environment and natural resources for a balanced use intended for genuine economic development; and 3) ensure that the country’s lands, minerals, waters, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are first and foremost reserved for and utilized by the Filipino people,” according to KMP Chairperson Emeritus Rafael Mariano, also a former agrarian reform secretary.

“Ensuring land use for food production is a paramount duty and obligation of the State. However, HB 8162 puts primacy in land use for private interests such as mining and energy, promotion of sustainable tourism, development of transport systems and urbanizable areas, and other endeavors for ‘future development.’ Worse, this proposed national land use policy could even complement the economic ChaCha that seeks to allow 100%-foreign ownership of land.”

KMP lamented that all of its proposed amendments to HB 8162 presented by Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas were rejected by the bill’s sponsor and representatives in attendance during the plenary session.

“What we have been advocating for the longest time is a national land use policy that is consistent with the goals of agrarian reform, rural development, and national industrialization to determine and develop the sections of land suitable for agricultural, industrial, reservation, recreational and other uses as well as to prevent the alienation of lands, marshes, lakes, rivers and the like to ensure sustained and self-reliant development as well as ecological balance,” Mariano added.

“We are demanding the Marcos Jr. administration for a genuine agrarian reform program but Congress, unfortunately, is giving us a National Land Use policy that will be a thousand times worse than the failed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and its iterations.” ###

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