House moves to strengthening right of govt to expropriate lands

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 159 which seeks to strengthen the right of the government to expropriate lands for the purposes of socialized housing.

The bill seeks to amend Sections 9, 10, and 11 of Republic Act 7279 otherwise known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.

The amendment to Section 9, which is titled "Acquisition of Land for Socialized Housing," provides that the following lands may be acquired for socialized housing: (a) Those owned by the Government or any of its subdivisions, instrumentalities, or agencies, including government-owned or-controlled corporations and their subsidiaries; (b) Alienable lands of the public domain; (c) Unregistered or abandoned and idle lands; (d) Those within the declared Areas for Priority Development, Zonal Improvement Program sites, and Slum Improvement and Resettlement Programs sites which have not yet been acquired; (e) Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services or BLISS sites which have not yet been acquired; and (f) Privately-owned lands.

The power to identify and to prioritize the particular area to be acquired shall be with the local government unit or the proper agency acquiring land for socialized housing. For this purpose, the enumeration in this section shall not, in any way, be interpreted as setting an order of priority, the amendment provides.

The amendment to Section 10 of RA 7279 titled "Modes of Land Acquisition" provides that the modes of acquiring lands for purposes of the Act shall include, among others, community mortgage, land swapping, land assembly or consolidation, land banking, donation to the Government, joint-venture agreement, negotiated purchase, and expropriation.

Where expropriation is resorted to, parcels of lands owned by small property owners shall be exempted for purposes of the Act. Abandoned property, as herein defined, shall be reverted and escheated to the States in a proceeding analogous to the procedure laid down in Rule 91 of the Rules of Court.

For the purpose of socialized housing, government-owned and foreclosed properties shall be acquired by local government units, or by the National Housing Authority primarily through negotiated purchase: Provided, that qualified beneficiaries who are actual occupants of the land shall be given the right of first refusal.

The bill also amends Section 11 titled "Expropriation of Idle Lands" so that all idle lands in urban and urbanized areas, as defined and identified in accordance with the Act, shall be expropriated and shall form part of the public domain.

These lands shall be disposed of or utilized by the government for such purposes that conform with their land use plans. Expropriation proceedings shall be instituted if, after the lapse of one year following receipt of notice of acquisition, the owner fails to introduce improvements as defined in Section 3(f) hereof, except in the case of force majeure and other fortuitous events. Exempted from this provision, however, are residential lands owned by small property owners.

Authors of the bill are Reps. Jose Christopher Belmonte, Xavier Jesus Romualdo, Jospeh Stephen Paduano, Strike Revilla, Abdullah Dimaporo, Winston Castelo, Deputy Speakers Romero Quimbo and Raneo Abu, Reps. Rodrigo Abellanosa, Joaquin Chipeco, Jr., Lawrence Fortun, Jorge Banal, Rene Relampagos, Marisol Panotes, Alfredo Benitez, Aniceto Bertiz III, Eugene Michael De Vera, Alberto Ungab, Deogracias Ramos, Jr., Gavini Pancho, Jericho Jonas Nograles, Gary Alejano, Alfredo Garbin, Jr., Wilter Wee Palma II, Julieta Cortuna, Virgilio Lacson, Cesar Sarmiento, Deogracias Victor Savellano, Michael Romero, Rodel Batocabe, Arnulfo Teves, Jr., Ma. Lucille Nava, Harry Roque, Ron Salo, Ben Evardone, Tom Villarin, Aileen Radaza, Manuel Luis Lopez, Edgar Mary Sarmiento, Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, and Manuel Jose Dalipe.

Source: House of Representatives

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