Malaybalay’s proposed new land use plan draws mixed reactions

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/27 September)—Mixed reactions greeted the proposed revisions to this city’s 2012-2022 Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP).

The City Council’s Committee on Human Settlement, Zoning and Land Use conducted the public hearing for the proposed revisions to the 10-year plan Thursday, in coordination with the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO).

Roberto Tinsay, vice president of the Bukidnon Kaamulan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (BKCCII), said the revision is timely.

He noted the new zoning ordinance will secure the poultry industry and is also being awaited by the real estate and eco-tourism sectors, whose representatives were among the hundreds who attended the hearing, mostly from the city’s 46 barangays.

Adrian Gamboa, CPDO officer-in-charge, told MindaNews Wednesday the plan is still open for changes and suggestion.

He said that when the city’s CLUP expired in 2010, they started to update it and then initially presented it to the City Development Council in 2011.

The CPDO was ready to present the proposed revisions in December 2012 but the city council committee deferred it due to the campaign period, Gamboa said.

He told the public hearing that it is important to revise the CLUP for the allocation of lands for future development and to keep people safe by guiding development away from hazardous areas and reducing risk to disaster.

The CLUP, he added, will also help ensure sustainable use of resources and facilitate delivery of services.

While he presented only the highlights of the proposed revised CLUP, Gamboa, said “nothing much” has changed between the 2001-2010 CLUP and the proposed version.

Gamboa did not distribute copies of the proposed CLUP during the public hearing due to a “technical glitch.”

He said that after the city council approves the CLUP revisions, the measure will be submitted to the Provincial Land Use Committee for the approval of the provincial board.

Tinsay, also president of the Chamber of Real Estate Builders Association Inc. in Malaybalay, said there is also a need to address flooding in the city that’s why the need for a revised CLUP.

But Engr. Alson Quimba, provincial agriculturist, cited the need to incorporate food sufficiency projections in the considerations for the CLUP revision, particularly for agricultural commodities like rice, corn, vegetables, livestock and fisheries.

“When you speak of (agriculture) protection, you must also be talking about interventions (to prevent farmers from leaving the core crops and shift to industrial crops and jeopardize food security),” he stressed.

On the issue on the moratorium on agricultural plantation expansion, Quimba suggested that aside from their business permits, companies must hold a public hearing for the people to decide if they should continue operating.

Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri, who stayed throughout the hearing, assured that the city government will take seriously its role to regulate industries in the city, noting the need to balance economic development and environmental protection.

This was also his reaction when asked by businessman Juan Salang, another official from the Kaamulan chamber, on how he would present the city’s policy on plantations to Singaporean investors interested to put up at least 1,000 hectares of coffee plantation in the city.

Eric Dagawasan, former Kalasungay barangay chair, questioned the alleged lack of consultation among the indigenous peoples (IPs) even if the proponents have consulted the barangays, health, business and other sectors for their plan.

He said that about 50,000 of the city’s 108,259 hectares land area are covered by Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles of the Lumads.

Engr. Jorge Cabanelez, the city’s zoning administrator, said the inputs of the IPs, through their Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP), will be integrated in the CLUP.

But he clarified that not all items in the ADSDPP may be included as “there might be some conflicts.”

Ma. Shirlene Sario, provincial officer of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, also raised the need to set up cultural villages or schools for living traditions.

Councilor Lorenzo Dinlayan Jr said they have already incorporated it in the eco-tourism plan of the city.

Hubert Quiblat, branch manager here of the Land Bank of the Philippines, welcomed the CLUP but cited the need for the city government to update the schedule of land market values, which dates back to 1991, to help increase local revenue generation.

Zubiri said the city government is positioning to increase real property taxes to improve revenue generation and to avoid too much dependence on the Internal Revenue Allotment.

Belino Epie, of the environmental desk of the Diocese of Malaybalay, said the CLUP should also include the Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP), considering that some farms are located in those areas.

Gamboa said after the CLUP, they will update the FLUP, which was classified in the 2001-2010 CLUP “as protection and production forests.” (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)