NEDA VIII convened the local planners of the provinces, cities and capital towns of the region for a dialogue-meeting with the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). The dialogue, held last May 23 at the Felipina Hall of the NEDA Regional Office VIII, was conducted at the request of the HLURB formally conveyed through a letter from its Chief Executive Officer and Commissioner Atty. Antonio M. Bernardo. Its purpose was to provide a venue for the discussion and threshing out of issues and concerns attendant to the formulation of the Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs), which majority of local government units (LGUs) in the region have yet to come up with and/or update.

In his welcome message, NEDA VIII Regional Director Atty. Bonifacio G. Uy stressed the importance of having a CLUP. He said the availability of the plan document will enable the LGUs to improve their disaster preparedness and determine their safe zones for the establishment of settlements and industries, among other uses. He also pointed out that CLUPs are essential inputs to the formulation of the successor Regional Physical Framework Plan 2015-2045, which has become imperative in the wake of Supertyphoon Yolanda. Atty. Uy underscored that the CLUP can be a tool in making the LGUs investment-ready, and where there are investments, business is expected to flourish and jobs to be generated. Hence, the CLUPs of LGUs in the region could also be an instrument for Eastern Visayas’ economic growth and poverty reduction.

HLURB Commissioner Atty. Linda L. Malenab-Hornilla, who led the HLURB team in the said dialogue, also pointed out that with the passage of two (2) prominent laws, the Climate Change Act of 2009 (RA 9729) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 (RA 10121), LGUs are required to update their respective CLUPs.

During the dialogue, the HLURB, NEDA VIII and the LGU representatives engaged in a healthy discussion on CLUP-related issues. The provision of technical assistance (TA) by HLURB to LGUs on CLUP preparation was also tackled. In summary, the dialogue covered the following: 1) validation on the status of CLUPs of the LGUs in the region; 2) identification of bottlenecks in the CLUP preparation/updating; 3) the absence of a regional office of HLURB in the region that can provide direct TA to LGUs in formulating their CLUP; and 4) the release of the 2013/2014 HLURB CLUP Guidebooks.

The HLURB responded to all the queries and sentiments raised by LGUs, which led to the following HLURB action points: 1) Update HLURB CLUP formulation status report based on the comments provided; 2) Continue to provide TA on CLUP formulation free of charge, to be undertaken using a clustered approach, wherein a group of LGUs will be gathered in one training-workshop; 3) Work on the reestablishment of their old structure of 13 regional offices instead of only 9; 4) Conduct orientation on CLUP for newly elected officials to be done by the DILG-Local Government Academy (LGA); and 5) Continue the ongoing orientation on the new CLUP guidebooks for the Provincial Land Use Committee (PLUC) members.

Others present during the meeting were HLURB Director for Policy Development Group (PDG), Nora L. Diaz, together with her staff from the PDG, representatives from the HLURB Central Visayas Region, and NEDA staff.

Given the importance of the CLUP, and the low percentage of LGUs in the region who have completed/updated their respective CLUPs, the dialogue was considered a pivotal activity in Eastern Visayas. Likewise, with the aforementioned positive results, RD Uy expressed his high hopes that the CLUP formulation process could be expedited.

Jay-ar O. Ragub, PFPD, NEDA VIII