How To Process Special Land Use Permit Application | Philippines
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In this article, we shall tackle Special Land Use Permit Application, inclusive therein is likewise the permit for FLAg (Special Forest Land Use Agreement). The government shall provide qualified persons with security of tenure to occupy, develop, utilize, and sustainably manage forestlands through appropriate forest land use management agreements, in accordance with the State’s policy of sustainably managing and providing equitable access to forestlands and forest resources.

Its objectives are to convert the country’s forestlands into productive uses consistent with the concept of sustainable development, to provide equitable economic opportunities to local communities and other stakeholders, to generate additional revenue for the government, and to optimize forestland use through sustainable management to ensure continuous productive uses and services.

What is a Special Land Use Permit [SLUP]?

Under a State-granted privilege, a person may temporarily occupy, hold, and manage any public forest lands for a specific use or purpose in exchange for a specific return.[1]DAO No. 2004 – 59

What is Special Forest Land Use Agreement?

The Special Forest Land Use Agreement (FLAg) is a contract between the government, as the first party represented by the Secretary or the Regional Executive Director concerned, and a second party or a person, authorizing the latter to temporarily occupy, manage, and develop in exchange for a government share, any public forestland for a specific use defined in Section 3 of DAO No. 2004-59, to engage in any authorized activity therein for a period of 25 years and beyond.[2]DAO No. 2004 – 59

Special Land Use Permit Application, including FLAg

It appears that the subject land may be a Public Forest Land; hence, the necessary SLUP [Special Land Use Permit] is required.

In relation to the processing of said permits, only the completion of the requirements appears or is apparently daunting. However, upon compliance thereof, the task seems to be a ministerial process, except for the reviews and assessments of the application for SLUP.

Requirements such as the (1) Application fee, (2) Map of the area applied for, and the (3) Board Resolution of the company authorizing certain person to represent the former will come from your end.

For the other requirements, we shall first discuss the meaning of the acronyms mentioned, to wit:

AcronymsMeaning
DAO  DENR Administrative Order
NCIP National Commission on Indigenous People
PAMB Protected Area Management Board
SEP         Strategic Environmental Plan (for Palawan Act)
PCSDPalawan Council for Sustainable Development

The Section 3 of DAO 2004-59 refers to waiver of vested rights or license/permits when the same are existing on Forest Lands. These Forest Lands are classified for Land Use Agreement (FLAg). Hence, these are allowed under existing laws to be used for proprietary purpose upon the grant of the Special Permit (SLUP) for the utilization thereof.

Consequently, the company needs to secure waiver as one of the requirements for the application of SLUP, either from the holder or possessor of the land where he has vested rights[3]Vested right is “some right or interest in the property who has become fixed and established, and is no longer open to doubt or controversy”. recognized by law or existing rules or from the holder of permits and licenses who has been utilizing the land.

The Indicative Development Plan may be a proposal describing how the area will be developed, including the strategies, schemes, or plans to generate the necessary development financing.

The Environmental Compliance Certificate is a certification issued by the Secretary (of DENR) or the Director or Regional Director of the Environment Management Bureau [EMB] certifying that the proposed project or undertaking will not cause a significant negative environmental impact, among others.

The Certificate of Non-Coverage is issued by the Protected Area Management Board [PAMB] affirming that the forest land is not subject to protected area coverage.

The NCIP Clearance may refer to certifications coming from the National Commission on Indigenous People [NCIP] attesting that the area where the particular plan, program, project or activity will be done does not overlap with, or affect, any ancestral domain or certifying that the grant of FPIC [Free and Prior Informed Consent] by the concerned ICCs/IPs [Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples] after appropriate compliance with the requirements provided for in this Guidelines.[4]NCIP A. O. No. 3, Series of 2012

The SEP [Strategic Environmental Plan], on the other hand, is document issued by the PCSD [Palawan Council for Sustainable Development] certifying (1) that based on the representations of the proponent and the preparer as reviewed, evaluated and validated by PCSDS technical staff, the proposed project or undertaking is in accordance with the SEP for Palawan Act, (2) that the proponent has complied with all the requirements of the SEP Clearance System, and (3) that the proponent is committed to institute all mitigating measures as provided in the EIS or IEE and to comply with the terms and conditions stipulated in this document.[5]PCSD, Administrative Order No. 6, Series of 2008

The steps and procedures for applying for Special Land Use Permit [SLUP] are as follows:

APPLICANT

  • Files application to the CENRO, together with the mandatory requirements, specified. Pays application and other fees. After the review process, applicant will receive the permit.
  • [6]Flow Chart for The Processing and Approval of Special Land Use Permit/Leases [FAO 8-3, as amended]

REVIEW PROCESSES

CENRO [City Environment and Natural Resources Office]

  • Accepts and reviews application & checks completeness of requirements (w/in 2 hrs.). Conducts field investigation for 1-3 days depending on the area coverage. Prepares map w/in 2 days after completion of fieldwork.[7]Ibid.
  • Issues special land use permit for areas less than one (1) hectare w/in 2 – 3 days.[8]Ibid.
  • Endorses application to PENRO for areas one (1) hectare or more or those SLUP which involve tree cutting such as Road Right-of-Way.[9]Ibid.
  • Endorses Special Land Use Permit which involved tree cutting w/in 2-3 days.[10]Ibid.

PENRO [Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office]

  • Reviews and evaluates application together w/ the report of CENRO w/in 1 day.[11]Ibid.
  • Issues Special Land Use Permit for areas 1 hectare to 5 hectares. w/in 2 days.[12]Ibid.
  • Endorses application to RED for areas more than 5 hectares w/in 1-2 days or those SLUP which involve tree cutting such as Road Right-of-way.[13]Ibid.
  • Endorses Special Land Use Application which involved tree cutting w/in 2-3 days.[14]Ibid.

RED [Regional Executive Director]

  • Reviews application and field report w/in 1 day. Validates report, if necessary, w/in 1-2 days Issues Special Land Use Permit for areas more than 5 hectares to 99 hectares w/in 2 days.[15]Ibid.
  • Endorses application and field reports to the OSEC [Office of the Secretary (DENR)] covering areas 100 hectares and above w/in 1-2 days or those SLUP which involve tree cutting such as Road Right-of-way.[16]Ibid.
  • Endorses Special Land Use Application which involved tree cutting w/in 2-3 days.[17]Ibid.

FMB [Forest Management Bureau]

  • Reviews application and supporting documents w/in 1 day. Drafts final map, special land use permit/lease including the covering memo for the Secretary and CSW [Completed Staff Work] Report w/in 5-10 working days.[18]Ibid.
  • Endorses application to Secretary thru the USEC [Undersecretary (DENR)] for Field Operations w/in 2-5 days.[19]Ibid.
  • Releases the permit/ lease approved by the Secretary w/in 1-2 days.[20]Ibid.

USEC [Undersecretary of DENR] for Field Operations

  • Reviews application and endorsement from FMB w/in 2-5 days. Affixes initials on the permit/lease and map and/or endorses application to the OSEC [Office of the Secretary (DENR)] thru the HEA [Head Executive Assistant Office] w/in 2-3 days.[21]Ibid.

SECRETARY [Secretary of the DENR]

  • Reviews the application and the draft Special Land Use permit/lease. Approves/affixes signature on the permit/lease and map w/in 2-10 days.[22]Ibid.
  • Returns the approved permit/lease to FMB for numbering and/or release w/in 1-2 days.[23]Ibid.

Observation

Particularly in rural and distant areas, people’s everyday lives are intertwined with the land and trees in profound ways. By supplying food, wood energy, housing, fodder, and fiber as well as by creating money and jobs to help people and societies flourish, forests may strengthen community resilience and enhance human well-being. It has been shown that forests can protect bio-multifariousness.

Thus, you will notice that the issuing authority varies, depending upon the area of a particular forest land and/or if, consequential the application, tree cutting will be implemented for right-of-way purposes.

If the SLUP is applied which may cover an area of 5 to 99 hectares of Forest Land, it is the Secretary of the DENR himself who will approve such application.

It is, therefore, suggested to determine first the nature of the possession of the apparent occupants of the land, in order to know whether they have vested rights therein.

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RALB Law | RABR & Associates Law Firm

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