THE Department of Land Reform (DAR) has amended certain provisions of Administrative Order 3A (Series of 2021) to ensure that the DAR’s Land Conversion Authority “responds to urgent needs under the health emergency” .
Government “Special Projects Enterprises” (SPUs) are seen as critically important in conversion requests. These projects include those which, according to the DAR, must meet the following criteria: bring greater benefit to the public; absolutely necessary for the community; would bring more opportunities to residents of the community; promote public use; help stimulate the economy; alleviate the missing economic needs of the community where the project is intended to serve; or, would benefit underprivileged or homeless citizens.
“These efforts consist of, but are not limited to, [the following:] agro-industrial; low-cost or socialized housing; production or distribution of electricity; water production; and telecommunications,” DAR Secretary Bernie F. Cruz said in a statement.
Interested landowners or land reform beneficiaries (ARBs) or duly authorized agents must file an application for conversion to USP with the appropriate regional director if the area to be converted does not exceed five hectares.
“All requests for conversion of land holdings smaller than five hectares must be handled by the relevant regional manager,” Cruz explained.
According to the DAR, the application must be filed with the Land Use Affairs Division-Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance, which will be handled by the Secretary of the DAR or a duly authorized office or committee.
“To determine the total area of the land subject to an application for conversion, the area of the adjacent land [that] was converted for a similar purpose by a previous conversion grant, regardless of ownership, must be considered,” Cruz said.
A certification from the sponsoring organization or the local government unit (LGU) involved in the project must be submitted for the request for conversion of PSUs, except for those involving agro-industrial projects.
“A conversion application for an energy project such as electricity generation, transmission or distribution must be certified by the Ministry of Energy or the National Electrification Administration or LGU, whichever is involved in the project,” he said.
Requiring certification by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development or the NHA or LGU involved in the project or by the agency that is the developer of the project includes the application for conversion for National Housing Authority social housing projects (NHA) or by the LGU or by a private entity, which meets the NHA’s low-cost housing standards as determined by the Socialized Housing Finance Corp. The rule applies to those who are under National Home Mortgage Finance Corp coverage. similar projects.
A request for conversion of a telecommunications site or areas must be certified by the National Telecommunications Commission or the Department of Information and Communications Technology or the LGU involved in the project or by the agency which is the proponent of the project, according to Cruz.
A conversion application for water-related projects and other similar projects must be certified by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System or the Local Water Utilities Administration or the LGU involved in the project or by the agency which is the proponent of the project.
A request for conversion of resettlement or relocation sites for disaster areas for displaced informal settlers must be certified by the National Council for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management or the LMU involved in the project or by the agency that is the promoter of the project, whether it is a priority resettlement or relocation project.
An application for conversion for the use of agricultural land as a site for national government infrastructure projects must be certified by the proponent agency such as the NIA, Ministry of Works and Highways or Ministry of Transport or the LGU involved in the project that it is a priority infrastructure project.
A conversion request for an agro-industrial project no longer requires any certification from the Ministry of Agriculture or any body. It is sufficient for the LGU, if any, that is involved in the project to certify that it is a priority project, in the absence of any participating LGU, the DAR will assess the merits of the application and take the decision.
All agribusiness or agribusiness conversion applications will only be approved if it is determined by the DAR within 30 days that it is a priority project necessary to increase yield and farmers’ income. The latter includes ARBs, Agrarian Reform Communities, ARB Organizations and Agrarian Reform Cooperatives.
All applicants must demonstrate that they have the necessary financial, logistical, technological, organizational and other resources to complete the agro-industrial or agro-industrial project in the total area covered by the application within five years.