“Comprehensive Land Use” definition in disarray

March 13, 2017

CHAOS SEEMS TO TEAR THE NATION APART  from the lack of an approved  Comprehensive Land Use in the country approved by  the  often contending parties such as the  LGU (Local Government Units), the DENR ( Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and the DAR ( Department of Agrarian Reform).

The  most powerful of three  in the specific locality in a “troika of power play” (between the LGU, DENR and DAR) will depend the fate of the poor landowner’s classification of his land.

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Nationwide – the debate has focused on the need for  urbanization and housing needs versus food security.  The pro-agri debaters say despite the fact that  33% of the land in the country is agriculture- the latter contributes only about 8% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product)- indicating its benign neglect.

Most businessmen are for, of course, for the  conversion of more agricultural land into commercial, residential , industrial zones and tourism to provide jobs for the people. 

There are as many , however, who oppose the conversion otherwise we will run out of land to produce food. Notice that since 1988 -beginning of the CARL (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform land) program some 97,520 hectares of agri land  -about the size of entire metro Manila and Cebu City- have already been converted into non-agricultural usage. 

The ambiguity of land classification with a Babel of voices from the LGU, DENR and DAR needs help from our legislators to resolve through  a nationwide Comprehensive Land Usage Classification pronto. 

This will stop the tug of war between the three to the detriment of legitimate land owners and let’s face it close the wide avenue open for graft for side negotiation with these agencies.  Notice the mess this present set up creates.

Converted land, DAR imposes a 500 square limit for residential usage – where ,therefore, a 1,200 lot house and lot can have various classification of its parts (since over 500 square meters). This is just one example.  

Fiscal watchers must also note that if  there was uniformity of land classification which could result in more conversions to non-agricultural usage , the government could end up collecting more taxes in the shift to more high value classifications. There are other problems.

Take the case of the premier island of Panglao in Bohol. Ninety percent of the land is still classified as agricultural making it difficult for lower-interest charging commercial banks from accepting them as collateral. 

If accepted as “collateral” it is only as an add-on where the banks would have granted the loan anyway on the financial strength of the borrower rather than relying on  the value of the collateral (land).          

Thus many of them self-finance projects or go to higher interest bearing lenders-creating additional burden on the borrowers. 

Many of the titles are of  still “Tax Declaration” and “Free Patent” or “Original Certificate of Titles” stages before they become the bankable TCT (Transfer Certificate of Title).  There is a prescription period to await possible adverse claims or “les pendens” against the title. 

This  adds  to the hesitance  of the  banks to accept agricultural land -because there could be various interpretations of their classification by these agencies and prejudicing the banks’ legal rights upon foreclosure.

That helps in pushing Agriculture into the doldrums of neglected state of development. The banks currently are awashe with funds. Imagine how much money can be unlocked from the banking system if agri land becomes bankable. as collateral for loans? It is great impetus to agri development in the country.

Add to that -the fact that in most towns in the country, the DENR does not have complete cadastral surveys of the land thereat. Without that , there are no technical descriptions of the properties so how could ownership be defined authoritatively?

Again not available for banking collateral.  That is the reason why many banks instead of complying with the Central Bank’s mandate to them to lend to agricultural projects- they would rather invest in government securities which is allowed as a form of compliance to the mandate.

We humbly ask our legislators to look into three items . Create a law to mandate One Comprehensive Land Use Classification agreed upon by the three agencies.  Mandate banks to accept agricultural land as collateral like they view residential and commercial lots.  Create a law mandating the DENR to finish all cadastral surveys within 2017.

See what gigantic  mess will be unraveled and how this country can develop more orderly -and make everyone participate in the much ballyhooed GDP economic growth.

Shall we, Gentlemen, please? 

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com



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