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Presidential order on land conversion ban released soon

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by Genalyn D. Kabiling and  Aytch Dela Cruz

Malacañang is expected to release soon an Executive Order (EO) on the moratorium for conversion of agricultural lands.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the fourth draft of the EO is being studied by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has proposed a two-year ban on land conversion to ensure food security, which was later adopted by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) in its first meeting last September.

Some economic managers oppose the ban, saying it might derail efforts to accelerate infrastructure development, meet housing backlog, and expand economic activities.

The draft EO was reportedly being modified to exclude lands not suited for agriculture.

President Rodrigo met last Tuesday with the PARC to take up various concerns, including a proposal to certify as urgent a bill on agrarian reform.

Abella said the President has yet to decide whether to certify the agrarian reform bill as an urgent or administrative measure.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano meanwhile has issued an administrative order extending for another year the special rules on land use conversion necessary for the construction of resettlement areas for the victims of super-typhoon Yolanda in Central and Eastern Visayas.

In a press statement released Wednesday, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said Mariano has instructed his officials and staff in the affected regions to prioritize applications to speed up the relocation of stricken families.

 “Three years after the onslaught of typhoon ‘Yolanda,’ majority of the affected families are yet to be relocated in safe resettlement areas. Many relocations sites are yet to be developed. That’s why it is necessary to issue this order of extension,” Mariano said.

Mariano said a land use conversion clearance from the DAR is required by the National Housing Authority for setting up relocation sites for Yolanda victims. The order would cover more lands and speed up the application process before it expires on March 5, 2018.

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