House OKs 30-year nat’l infrastructure program, land use bills

By Jose Cielito Reganit

May 22, 2023, 9:56 pm Updated on May 23, 2023, 5:45 am

MANILA – Voting 254-3, the House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a consolidated bill providing for a 30-year national infrastructure program for 2023 up to 2052.

House Bill (HB) 8078, or the 30-Year National Infrastructure Program Act, focuses on projects of national significance that will serve as the country’s infrastructure backbone.

It seeks to establish sustained major infrastructure projects of the national government to be undertaken and implemented by concerned national government agencies and government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) in the fields of transportation, energy, water resources, information and communications technology (ICT), agri-fisheries modernization, food logistics and social infrastructure.

The proposed measure also seeks to provide for an overall framework for the desirable locations, magnitudes, interrelationships and timing of public and private investments in major infrastructure in the country over the next three decades to maximize their socio-economic impact.

More importantly, the measure seeks to ensure continuity in the development and implementation of projects in the 30-year program across administrations, regardless of changes in national leadership.

HB 8708 mandates the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), in consultation with implementing agencies and stakeholders, to formulate the 30-year infrastructure program in detail, including measurable targets and the selection, prioritization and phasing of specific projects.

Under the measure, projects will be prioritized based on effectiveness in meeting government objectives; economic feasibility; social inclusion; environmental sustainability; safety; security; affordability; public access; and technical readiness for implementation.

HB 8708 encourages private sector participation in infrastructure planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance; emphasizes asset preservation and maintenance; adopts climate change adaptation and disaster resilience; and intensifies infrastructure-related research and development, among others.

The measure provides that the total annual allocation for the program shall be at least 5 percent of gross domestic product, provided that the constitutional command giving budgetary priority to education shall be observed.

The government may also tap official development assistance as funding source.

The NEDA and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) shall determine the funding allotment for each implementing agencies based on their priorities, absorptive capacity and performance.

Projects under the program may be undertaken by the national government through its implementing agencies, by the private sector through public-private-partnership (PPP) agreements, PPPs in partnership with local government units, or a combination of those modalities.

The NEDA is tasked to regularly update the list of core projects to reflect changes in development policies, in economic, physical and social conditions, and in the status of the projects.

To achieve efficiency and transparency, projects in the program may be procured through electronic online platforms. Implementing agencies may use automated management tools that can help track project implementation.

In a statement, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said HB No. 8078 aims to put in place a long-term system of funding and sustaining public infrastructure projects for the benefit of the people.

“It would institutionalize the ‘Build Better More’ program of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to support a strong economy that would generate more job and income opportunities for our people, and build a resilient and reliable national infrastructure network,” he said.

National Land Use bill

The House voted 262-3 to approve HB 8162 or the National Land Use Act seeking to institutionalize a national land use policy for the rational, holistic and just allocation, utilization, management and development of our land resources, including the parameters that will guide planning at the national and local levels.

The National Land Use Act is among the priority measures identified by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in his first State of the Nation Address, and later adopted by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

The measure seeks to provide the national framework for the development of the country’s land to ensure their optimum use, consistent with the principle of sustainable development.

Under the measure, the National Land Use Commission (NLUC) shall be created under the Office of the President, which shall act as the highest policy making body on land use and resolve land use policy conflicts between or among agencies, branches or levels of the government.

The NLUC shall coordinate efforts towards the development of integrated land use plans at the national, regional, provincial, city and municipal levels, and monitor the implementation of all land use plans, including relevant policies.

It shall be chaired by Commissioner to be appointed by the President, who will have a rank of a Cabinet Secretary.

The Commissioner shall be a qualified professional in any of the fields of land use, physical planning, environmental management, engineering, public governance, or law.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the NEDA will act as the vice chairperson of the NLUC.

The NLUC is tasked of drafting the National Physical Framework Plan (NPFP) which will guide the planning and management of the country’s land and other physical resources at the national and sub-national levels.

The NPFP, which shall have a timeframe of 30 years, with regular review and upgrading every 10 years, shall indicate broad spatial directions and policy guidelines on settlements development, production land use, protection land use, social services and utilities, transmission line corridor, and transportation and communication.

The proposed measure also creates the National Land Use office under the OP which shall serve as the technical secretariat of the NLUC and headed by an Executive Director.

HB 8162 provides for mandatory consultations from the regional, provincial, city and municipal level; and harmonizes existing rules and regulations governing the allocation, utilization, development and management of land resources.

It also seeks to address the vital issues of agrarian reform, climate change, the completion of a national database and geo-hazard mapping, and disaster risk reduction and management.

HB 8162 mandates the NLUC to come out with a system of incentives and awards to LGUs that regularly updates their comprehensive land use plan while also providing sanctions and penalties for violations. (PNA)