Palace could issue EO to break Congress deadlock on land use bill

Salvador Panelo 032619 - Palace could issue EO to break Congress deadlock on land use billPHILSTAR

AN executive order (EO) could precede the passage of the proposed National Land Use Act, which has been declared a government priority by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, his spokesman said Tuesday.

Salvador S. Panelo said the EO was discussed during the 44th Cabinet Meeting on Monday. Mr. Duterte called on legislators to pass the proposed National Land Use Act, but pending passage the President could issue the order.

“(T)he President approved the suggestion that the administration first come up with an executive order for the purpose,” Mr. Panelo said in a statement Tuesday.

The EO could establish a body to oversee the classification of land by their appropriate use. Mr. Duterte has declared such legislation urgent in his state of the nation addresses (SONAs), with his 2019 SONA requesting passage by the end of the year.

Congress has yet to approve the National Land Use measure after more than two decades, with bills in both chambers awaiting committee approval.

Senator Cynthia A. Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, has not given a statement on when the committee will tackle the bills. Ms. Villar has said that deciding on land use should be left to the discretion of Local Government Units (LGUs).

Representative Eduardo R. Gullas of the first district of Cebu, who chairs the House Land Use committee had also not replied to requests for comment at deadline time on when the House will tackle its own bill.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) had been ordered to draft a National Land Use Law and was able to present key provisions of the draft at the meeting, Mr. Panelo said.

“National Economic and Development Authority Director General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia and Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro shared the salient points of the draft bill,” he said.

Another subject discussed during the Monday Cabinet meeting was automating documentary transactions for businesses, which was approved by Mr. Duterte.

Mr. Panelo said that Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez called on government agencies “to streamline and automate their processes” in order to improve the Philippines standing in the World Bank next ease of doing business report. In the last report, the Philippines was 95th, up from 124th a year earlier.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) oversees the National Business One-Stop Shop (NBOSS) program, which is currently being pilot-tested. NBOSS hopes to reduce registration for businesses to five steps over a transaction period of five to six days. The DTI hopes to launch the e-registration system next year.

Mr. Lopez has said that the e-registration portal will partially launch next year, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Social Security System (SSS) already on board. The department in discussions with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to also join in the end-to-end system for business registration. — Gillian M. Cortez

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