HLURB Approves Cotabato City Land Use Plan

Vice President and concurrent Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Chairman Jejomar C. Binay presented the CLUP certificate of approval to Mayor Japal I. Guiani, Jr. Also on hand during the CLUP presentation were HLURB Chief Executive Officer and Commissioner Antonio M. Bernardo, Commissioners Ria Corazon Golez-Cabrera, Luis A. Paredes and Linda Malenab-Hornilla, Ex-Officio Commissioners Augusto B. Santos of National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and Undersecretary Jaime A. Pacanan of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and HUDCC Secretary General Cecilia S. Alba.A land use plan is a blueprint of a city or municipality, a sort of guide map that orderly disposes the land if it is for agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial, open space, a reserved “green” area (like forest land, swamp land, river or lake), a school, a transportation infrastructure, as well as other purposes that would enable communities within the territory to function properly, safely and productively.

It was the third time that Cotabato City’s CLUP was presented to the board for approval and ratification. The Plan was first brought before the board in August 2010 but was only given provisional approval to allow the city planning officials to shorten the term of the plan from twenty to ten years. It was the recommendation then by Vice President Binay who was apprehensive that the city would be restricted by the CLUP in case of a sudden upsurge in development. He said the only remedy is to revise the plan to suit the needs of the city.

In September 2011, the Board deferred approval of the city’s land use plan following the passage of a new law which mandated both the national and local governments to adopt a mitigating plan in response to said abnormal environmental condition. Vice President Binay took the occasion to require the city to incorporate disaster risk reduction and climate change measures in the plan. The delay in the approval of Cotabato City’s CLUP was deemed necessary in the wake of the massive flooding in the city caused by typhoon Dodong. Some 88,843 people had been reportedly displaced by the flood which started on June 07 and had affected a total of 25,375 families about half of the city’s total land area is considered to be below sea level but the water lilies that clogged the river tributaries of Rio Grande de Mindanao had worsened the inundation.

Mayor Guiani said several projects that would mitigate the negative effects of climate change have been identified and incorporated in the CLUP. To address the impact of climate change, the city had already undertaken several programs and projects such as riverbank protection/clearing and grubbing of riverways, rehabilitation of coastal marine ecosystem, expansion and improvement of perimeter dike system, establishment of materials recovery facilities and sanitation and sewerage facilities. He added that the city will undertake the following flood control and drainage programs: dredging of major-rivers, de-clogging and de-sitting of waterways, construction of flood control drainage system, formulation of drainage master plan and formulation of Mindanao River Basin.

Under the plan, Mayor Guiani said they will also identify and open new resettlement in Brgy. Tamontaka as well as new residential neighbourhood in Brgy. Kalangayan. He said that the construction of socialized housing units will be given priority under his administration.

Vice President Binay said he will discuss with President Aquino the perennial flooding problem in Cotabato City and the possibility of reviving the Task Force Mindanao River Basin to get the Local Government Units more involved in the solution process and harmonized the efforts of all concerned agencies or entities. He added that he will also consult the DPWH Secretary in the hopes of providing a long term solution to the city’s flood problems.