House okays bill on irrigable lands’ conversion ban


MANILA — The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a measure penalizing the conversion of irrigated and irrigable lands for non-agricultural purposes to ensure food securtiy in the country.

Through voice voting, lawmakers passed House Bill 7115, which seeks to amend the “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988.”

The bill expressly prohibits the act of converting or causing the physical or legal conversion of irrigated and irrigable lands.

This includes any person who: 1) directly and indirectly participates in the conversion; 2) directly or indirectly induces the landowner or farmworker in the conversion; 3) applies for and faclitates the application for conversion; 4) facilitates the application and issuance of clearances for conversion; 5) approves the application for conversion; and 6) directly and indirectly benefited from the conversion.

The bill carries a penalty consisting of imprisonment of six years and one day to 12 years, and/or a fine of PHP200,000 to PHP1 million imposed against violators.

The bill also provides that if the offender is a public officer, he shall suffer the additional penalties of removal from office and perpetual absolute disqualification to hold public office.