House approves land use, town specialization bills on third reading

THE House of Representatives passed on third reading measures that optimize land use and encourage municipalities to consider product specialization.

At Monday’s plenary session, 262 legislators voted in favor of House Bill (HB) No. 8162, while three voted against and zero abstained.

The proposed National Land Use Act seeks to help local governments and land users identify the best use of land.

The measure proposes to create the National Land Use Commission (NLUC) under the office of the President. It will be authorized to resolve land use conflicts between and among agencies, branches, or levels of government. The NLUC will take over the powers of the National Land Use Committee, which will be abolished.

The NLUC is tasked with drafting the National Physical Framework Plan, which will have a 30-year timeline and must be updated every 10 years.

The bill calls for a 5% idle land tax on any person or entity that causes irrigated land to remain unproductive for more than a year. If the land remains unproductive for two years, it will revert to the State.

Meanwhile, 268 legislators also approved on third reading HB 1171, which seeks to institutionalize the Trade and Industry department’s One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippines program. No legislator voted in opposition or abstained.

The OTOP program was first launched in 2004, and has since been extended to micro, small, and medium enterprises.

The measure seeks to ensure that OTOP production follows standards set by the Department of Trade and Industry, including brand development.

The Senate approved a similar bill in March. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz