Land Use Committee – The Cordillera Regional Land Use Committee (RLUC) met on December 15, 2021 for their second semester meeting presided over by NEDA-CAR Assistant Regional Director Stephanie F. Christiansen (lower middle). Among the meeting agenda discussed was the possible reclassification of abandoned mines in Benguet proposed by Itogon Mayor Victorio T. Palangdan (lower left) and further discussed by MGB-CAR Director Fay W. Apil (lower right).

The Cordillera Regional Land Use Committee (RLUC) in its meeting on December 15, 2021 discussed updates on abandoned mines in Itogon, Mankayan, and Tuba, Benguet; the proposed resolution urging the passage of a National Land Use Act (NaLUA) that integrates CAR concerns and NEDA inputs; and the salient features of Republic Act No. 11201 creating the Department of Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).

The RLUC endorsed the July 2019 version of the NaLUA Bill endorsed by the National Land Use Committee (NLUC) which considered most of the inputs of CAR during the regional consultation on the draft Bill held in April of 2019, particularly the integration of Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plans (ADSDPP) in land use plans, the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples over ancestral domains, and the inclusion of the option to convert exhausted mineral and energy resource lands to ancestral domains.

The RLUC also recommended that certain amended sections of the draft Bill be restored to their original versions, including the definition of alienable and disposable lands and critical watersheds, and the section on forest land boundary delineation, to allow for the development of lands with slope above 18 percent in consideration of critical watershed protection and high-risk areas.  A resolution from the Cordillera Regional Development Council is requested by the RLUC to urge the immediate passage of a NaLUA that considers these concerns.

The RLUC also tackled the possible reclassification of abandoned mines in Benguet into settlement or agri-tourism areas, as appropriate, proposed by Itogon Mayor Victor T. Palangdan. This will be subjected to further study by the Secretariat and TWG members of the RLUC, and will be presented as an issue to the Watershed Committee and the Committee on Indigenous Peoples’ Concerns (CIPC). In relation to this concern, Dir. Fay Apil of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau – CAR was invited to present updates on recent developments in abandoned mining sites in CAR.

Director Maria O. Amoroso of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development presented the salient features of RA 11201 which includes the general and specific functions of the newly-created Department during the meeting. The presentation aims to assist the Committee in identifying new possible areas of convergence with the DHSUD, considering its mandate.

The RLUC secretariat reported on the highlights of the first RLUC capability-building webinar on resolving land use conflicts conducted on November 23, 2021. The webinar was well-received by participants from different local government units, regional line agencies, members of the academe, and other private organizations in and out of the region. Similar activities are proposed annually for the continuing capacitation of the RLUC members and other stakeholders that will help ensure sustainable land use planning and management in the region.