MANILA – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Land Use Committee (NLUC) reconvened on November 29, 2016 and agreed to review the National Spatial Strategy (NSS), among other current land use policy concerns.

The NSS is the core strategy of the National Physical Framework Plan (NPFP) 2016-2045, which intends to guide sub-national physical and land use planning.

The NSS defines the country’s desired spatial structure based on population trends, economic activities, and services. Recognizing the role of cities as growth drivers, in line with AmBisyon Natin 2040 or the country’s long-term vision, the NSS proposes a network connecting four metropolitan centers with regional centers and sub-regional centers using transport networks.

“It is important to improve the mobility of Filipinos by enhancing connectivity between urban centers and marginalized areas. With improved connectivity, linking jobs and people can be done more efficiently,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

Aside from improved connectivity, the objectives of the NSS also include decongesting Metro Manila by promoting scale and agglomeration economies in regional and sub-regional centers, managing the growth of large and more environmentally-constrained metropolitan centers, and reducing vulnerability by ensuring easy access to disaster-affected areas.

The Duterte administration is positioned to increase public spending on infrastructure until 2022, allotting as much as 5.4 percent of next year’s gross domestic product.

Moreover, the NLUC also discussed policy issues such as the delineation of safe and unsafe zones. This will serve as the basis for locating rehabilitation and recovery projects, using maps produced by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

The NLUC also reviewed the revised draft Executive Order on the two-year moratorium on agricultural land conversion as proposed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The revised EO includes a new provision allowing the Office of the President to exempt certain government projects for energy development, socialized housing, economic zone development, tourism zone development and other necessary infrastructure projects from the moratorium.

While NEDA, in a signed position paper with the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), has been pushing for effective land use regulation instead of banning agricultural land conversion, it nonetheless agreed to review the revised Executive Order and submit its comments to DAR.

The NLUC is one of seven cabinet-level interagency committees under the NEDA Board chaired by Secretary Pernia.