Right of Way
The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure that provides a new policy framework governing the acquisition of right-of-way. Site or relocation for national and local government infrastructure projects.
House Bill 5588, to be known as “The Right-of-Way Act,” aims to simplify the mode of acquiring right-of-way for government projects.
The bill amends Republic Act 8974, otherwise known as “An Act to Help the Acquisition of Right-Of-Way, Site or Location for National Government Infrastructure Projects and For Other Purposes.”
Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan (Lone District, Benguet), chairman of the House Committee on Public Works and Highways and one of the principal authors of the bill, said national government infrastructure are crucial for public welfare and the country’s development because they are investments in the nation’s economy and future.
“The delivery of basic services, the mobility of our communities, and the day-to-day operations of business on all levels depend on the existence of reliable infrastructure such as roads, bridges, classrooms, and public markets among others,” Cosalan said.
Rep. Jesulito A. Manalo (Party-list, ANGKLA), also an author of the measure, said the acquisition of property needed for these projects,. Yet entails a long and tedious process, which taxes both private land owners and the State.
“To balance the interests of the State and of private land owners and ensure that the nation’s infrastructure projects are completed efficiently, equitably, and with due consideration for public rights, there is an urgent need to amend R.A. 8974,” stressed Manalo.
As defined under the measure, the term “national government projects”. Shall refer to all national government infrastructure projects and its public service facilities, engineering works and service contracts. Including project undertaken by government-owned and controlled corporations, all projects covered by Republic Act No. 6957, as amended by Republic Act No. 7718, otherwise known as the “Build-Operate-Transfer Law,” and other related and necessary activities, such as site acquisition, supply or installation of equipment and materials, implementation, construction, completion, operation, maintenance, improvement, repair and rehabilitation, regardless of the source of funding.
Under the measure, the government may acquire real property needed as right-of-way site. Or location for any national government infrastructure project through donation, negotiated sale, expropriation, or any other mode of acquisition as provided by law.
The bill ensures that the implementing agency may offer to acquire, through negotiated sale. The right-of-way site or location for a national government infrastructure project. The sum of the current market value of the land. The replacement cost of the structures and improvements therein and the current market value of crops and trees therein.
The measure mandates the implementing agency to take into account. The ecological and environmental impact of the project it will undertake. Before any national government project could be undertaken. The implementing agency shall consider environmental laws, land use ordinances and all pertinent provisions of Republic Act No. 7160 or the “Local Government Code.”
The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDC) and the National Housing Authority (NHA). In coordination with the Local Government Units (LGUs), shall establish resettlement sites for informal settlers. Including the provision of adequate basic services and community facilities.
Other key provisions of the measure are the prohibition on the issuance of Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) on infrastructure projects. A flexible/open rate of return (ROR) of investment, automatic grant of administratively delegated franchises and tax exemption on local taxes.
Co-authors of the measure are Reps. Raul Del Mar (1st District, Cebu City), Isidro Ungab (3rd District, Davao City), JC Rahman Nava (Lone District, Guimaras), Dakila Carlo Cua (Lone District, Quirino), Leopoldo Bataoil (2nd District, Pangasinan), Jorge Almonte (1st District, Misamis Occidental), Joaquin Chipeco (2nd District, Laguna), Sonny Collantes (3rd District, Batangas), Cheryl Deloso-Montalla (2nd District, Zambales), Jonathan Dela Cruz (Party-list, ABAKADA-GURO), Jose Atienza, Jr. (Party-list, BUHAY) and Leah Paquiz (Party-list, ANG NARS).