In a fast-changing world, land tenure and food security has become a great concern for many, especially in the developing countries. In Northern Mindanao, Philippines, a forum was conducted on April 30, 2019 facilitated by Xavier Science Foundation, Inc. (XSF) in partnership with the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC), UN-HABITAT and the Regional Land Use Committee (RLUC) of the National Economic Development Authority – Region 10 (RLUC-NEDA 10) that highlighted the issues on resource governance, tenure security and land use planning as they relate to the proposed National Land Use Act (NaLUA) and how it will affect communities like the Indigenous Peoples (IP) and their ancestral domains.
In the forum, Engr. Jose “Joe” Gatus, DPA, President Emeritus of Oro Habitat for Humanity and a private sector representative in RLUC-NEDA provided the Philippine’s context of land governance – from Ridge to Reef. He emphasized that the Philippine Constitution guarantees the equitable access of each Filipino to its land resources. Engr. Gatus stressed the need to comprehend land’s uses through classification and zonation. To provide security of tenure, land administration is necessary through cadastre and land disposition/concession for occupants of the lands of public domain in accordance with their recognized rights. To sustain productivity, land development is essential.
EnP Leonila Cajarte, Division Chief of Policy Formulation and Planning Division of NEDA-10 presented the salient features of the National Land Use Bill. Land rights advocates in the country hope to pass the NaLUA bill in the 18th Congress that would serve as a legal mandate, among others, for the National Framework for Physical Planning. She also discussed the initial comments and recommendations by the RLUC-X for the National Land Use Committee’s consideration. Comments made by the IP sector were highlighted in Chapter 3 of NaLUA where the Ancestral Domains Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) are considered in the Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUP) and Community Development Plan (CDP) of the concerned Local Government Units (LGU) and of which the IPs are represented in the formulation of the said CLUP.
One of the highlights of the forum was the presentation made by Dr. Eugene Chigbu, Co-Chair for International Research and Training Cluster of GLTN on Tenure Responsive Land Use Planning in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). His inputs covered three major topics (1) understanding land-use planning, land tenure security and their relationships, (2) Tenure Responsive land-use planning (TR-LUP) and (3) role of TR-LUP in accelerating the implementation of (SDG) and new urban agenda. Dr. Chigbu concluded how TR-LUP fits into the on-going debate and practices on the best ways to improving land-use and tenure security. He emphasized that it is a ‘practical tool for land use and natural resource management interventions in developing countries because of its potential to enable improvements in physical development, as well as in creating the opportunities for recognizing the rights of disadvantaged groups such as women, Indigenous Peoples, pastoralists and the landless in the rural and urban spaces.’
The forum was made more meaningful as various agencies jointly engaged themselves in the discussion. Representatives from the regional offices of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board – (HLURB), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA), Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR) and student leaders of the Central Student Government (CSG) of Xavier University were present.
The conversations on land tenure security and land-use planning will continue since these are contentious issues and both influence land rights as well as the direction of development. They involve decisions and potential activities and that together, the pattern of land allocations people adhere to and the level of tenure security people have can determine the quality of their development, according to Dr. Chigbu.
The forum ended with much enthusiasm from various stakeholders for future engagements in building sustainable communities through collaborations and in understanding land tenure security to fight against poverty and food insecurity.