Naga’s timberlands to become private-A A +A
Saturday, September 29, 2012
ONLY President Benigno Aquino III’s signature is needed to change the classification of public lands in the City of Naga, Cebu, opening them to private ownership.
Rep. Eduardo Gullas (Cebu, first district) said House Bill 6125, which he authored, was passed in both houses of Congress.
He said the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, headed by Sen. Francis Escudero, last Tuesday transmitted the measure to the President to be signed into law.
The measure, however, does not include swamplands and areas that are landslide-prone.
Naga Mayor Valdemar Chiong welcomed the development. He said the bill will allow more investments to come in.
Gullas told reporters yesterday that his bill proposes to convert 71 percent of Naga’s timberland into agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial land, which are alienable and disposable.
The bill, he said, is based on Presidential Decree 1998, which states that lands located in the Provinces of Cebu and Benguet, and bearing a slope of 18 percent or over can be converted into alienable and disposable lands.
Gullas said the law was first filed by his brother, Jose “Dodong” Gullas, who was congressman in 2001 to 2004. Gullas filed the bill when he became congressman from 2004 to 2007, but the proposal was blocked in the Senate.
Eduardo said swamplands cannot be reclassified because they belong to the National Government.
He said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources agreed with the bill’s provisions, provided landslide-prone areas are excluded from the conversion.
The congressman said 29 percent Naga’s land area is alienable and disposable, while 71 percent is classified as timberland.
In an interview, Chiong said he is grateful to Gullas for the bill’s passage.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 29, 2012.