TWG on Legislative Concerns

National Land Use Act

            Among the many bills on housing and real estate pending in the legislature is House Bill No. 6545 or the proposed National Land Use and Management Act (NLUMA). In the last 21st CREBA National Convention in Palawan, Cong. Rodolfo G. Valencia reported that the current version of the bill, principally authored by Cong. Kaka Bag-ao, was filed on September 6, 2012, first read on September 10, approved on second reading just a day after, approved on third reading on September 20 and swiftly transmitted to the Senate on September 26.

The Constitution mandates that all sectors everywhere in the country should be given optimum opportunity to develop. It covers the principle of equitable land access for all sectors premised on the judicious allocation of lands to achieve well-balanced socio-economic development to ensure prosperity for the greatest number.

The property sector has never been against the allocation of the best and most productive lands for agricultural purposes to provide food security for our people. However, modern times dictate that mere allocation of land is not enough. We need to apply modern technology in food production which we lack.

We in CREBA recognize the need for a clear, consistent and socially acceptable land use policy that will remove the inconsistency brought about by conflicting laws on land utilization and resolve conflicts due to competing land use. To name a few, we cite the following existing laws dealing with land use.

Republic Act No. 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992 classifies all cities regardless of their population density and municipalities with a population density of at least five hundred (500) persons per square kilometer as “urban areas” and reserves them for human settlement and other non-agricultural uses.

Republic Act 7916 or the PEZA Law identifies certain areas as ecozones under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and reserves them for agro-industrial, industrial, tourist, recreational, commercial, and other non-agricultural uses.

Republic Act 8435 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 identifies areas as “Strategic Agriculture and Fisheries Development Zones” (SAFDZ) which are set aside for agricultural development. Republic Act 6657 or the CARP Law specifies the lands which are to be used for agrarian reform purposes.

Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code confers upon LGUs the authority and responsibility to determine land use in their localities through their zoning powers. The DENR charter provides it exclusive jurisdiction over lands of the public domain as well as the power to implement laws intended for environmental protection.

To CREBA’s mind, there is no need for a new legislation since the goals sought to be attained – food security, environmental protection, agrarian reform, urban land reform, agricultural development, industrial development, and the like – have already been addressed under various existing laws. All that is necessary is simply the proper application and implementation of these existing laws.

From the words of veteran legislator and Realtor Cong. Valencia, an original incorporator of CREBA, the NLUMA Bill is “redundant, usurpatory, and over-reaching”. He asserts that it serves as a mere camouflage for perpetuating the CARP, and diverts attention from the real issues and problems on the ground.

To be socially acceptable, a land use policy must treat equally the Constitutional mandates of undertaking a just distribution of agricultural lands, and providing affordable and decent housing and basic services to underprivileged and homeless citizens. The interests of a nation and its citizens require the highest and best use of the land and the widest distribution of land ownership.

The housing industry is no doubt a vital sector in our country’s future. It is a key sector of our economy that addresses not only the problem of homelessness but provides millions of jobs to the unemployed and billions of revenues to government. #

By: Mr. Charlie A. V. Gorayeb
National President
May 2012

Department of Housing: A MUST

It is a great honour and privilege for me to lead for another year the country’s largest umbrella organization of stakeholders from the allied industries of housing, construction, and real estate development – the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations, Inc. or CREBA.

Over the last four decades, CREBA has taken upon itself to regularly propose legislative and administrative approaches to housing production, finance or regulation, or submit well-researched commentaries or critique of government-initiated legislation or policies related to housing.

From time to time, however, CREBA has also seen it fit to propose measures or take a position on emerging concerns or issues that, although not directly related to housing, nevertheless affect the socio-economic or political environment that invariably impacts on housing and real estate.

Among the major issues that have continued to plague the housing sector is the absence of a government unit devoted to provide solutions to the over-arching challenges of providing decent homes for Filipinos. Thus, CREBA has been pushing for the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD) through legislation.

CREBA perceives that since the abolition of the Ministry of Human Settlements in the wake of the Martial Law regime's downfall, the housing effort has suffered in terms of prioritization at the highest levels of Government. Since shelter is one of the three most basic needs of man, provision of the same should enjoy a priority at least equal to tourism and other government services, and should be similarly addressed by a full-fledged Department rather than just a mere Coordinating Council.

Toward this end, CREBA has been continually working for the creation of a DHUD that will establish a permanent seed fund, balance land use, enhance securitization measures, expand the powers of the HLURB to cover summary ejectment functions and thus, protect the property rights of legitimate landowners, among many other urgently needed reforms.

CREBA believes that the creation of a Housing Department is not only imperative, but long overdue. The Chamber has long been an advocate of the DHUD Bill and has unfailingly submitted its proposals to both Houses of Congress over the years.  Our position has remained consistent for the past 2 decades: that the DHUD need not be structured with the usual full complement of bureaus and service divisions.

This is because the administrative and operational structure is already in place – comprised of the existing housing agencies and GOCCs. There is thus no compelling need to disturb this existing infrastructure.

What is of utmost importance is to cloth the policy-making and overseeing body with powers sufficient to ensure (1) that the existing housing agencies, local governments and the private sector operate in a concerted and holistic fashion, and (2) that the housing and urban development effort is accorded the priority it deserves at the highest rungs of government.

Thus, it should suffice to elevate the status of the present Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) into a Department, maintain its present complement of offices and personnel, attach thereto the existing housing agencies and GOCCS, and confer upon this Department adequate administrative and supervisory powers over the KSA’s and their respective governing boards.

Perhaps the most radical, albeit necessary, measure we would now like to introduce, in view of our actual and recent experiences, is the granting of veto powers upon the Housing Secretary over all actions taken by the governing boards of the KSA’s with respect to investments, allocation and disposition of funds, issuance of credit instruments, and such matters as may bear directly or indirectly on policies, programs, rules and regulations adopted by the Department.

The DHUD Bill should, therefore, grant the Housing Secretary full authority and direct control over the KSA’s, and in the process, provide the mechanism for responsibility and accountability for his actions.

With the full support of the Housing Czar, Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay, and the tireless efforts of the Senate and House Committees headed by Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and Cong. Rodolfo G. Valencia, we hope that our resolve to pass the DHUD Bill for the last 20 years will finally translate to reforms that will benefit our people. #

The CREBA Speaks is a bi-monthly column published at the Manila Bulletin. For comments, interested parties may e-mail the author at