Cabinet secretaries are political appendages or extensions of the President.
As such, they nearly wield delegated power.
But since the President has a national mandate – directly elected by the people (at leasts 15 million of them), then the powers of these Cabinet chiefs necessarily have national scope or coverage.
This means all secretaries must consider how the national agenda impacts on national well-being.
While he or she is given a specific assignment or portfolio, he/she must consider the effects of all policy decisions on the general welfare.
For instance, just because one is assigned to look after the needs of landless farmers doesn’t mean he or she must disregard all other sectors in executing his/her office.
The bottom line here is to always take a look at the big picture.
Take, for example, the proposed two-year moratorium on land-use conversion from agricultural to non-agricultural purposes.
The moratorium is being proposed by Agrarian Reform Sec. Rafael V. Mariano, who announced in recent press briefings that an executive order was already being prepared to suspend, for a two-year period, the processing and approval of pending or new applications for the conversion of the use of agricultural lands from agricultural to non-agricultural uses.
This has alarmed various sectors of society.
The proposal, which is being supported by the Department of Agriculture, has a laudable objective: to help establish the country’s food security.
Providing food security for the people does not have to be at the expense of other necessities, like shelter.
This is what the proposed moratorium would do: it may increase the amount of land that may be cultivated for food crops, but it would reduce the amount of land for the construction of houses and the development of whole communities.
The four major organizations of property developers have submitted to the Office of the President a position paper, which, hopefully, would encourage the Executive Branch to reconsider the proposed moratorium and study its impact on society and economy.
The industry groups said the proposal would:
* 3.5 million jobs at stake, in housing and housing-related industries.
* The housing backlog, estimated at 5.7 million units and rising.
* Proposed moratorium is contrary to government’s efforts to decongest Metro Manila and the move toward federalism (a vowed Duterte administration objective).
* Related industries involving billions of pesos of investments will suffer.
* The government stands to lose a significant amount of revenues from the housing and related industries and businesses.
* Land conversion for housing has minimal effect on food security.
The industry groups noted that the Constitution “provides a foundation which specifically addresses the issue of industrialization based on sound agricultural development and agrarian reform while ensuring the optimal use of the nation’s limited land resources.”
We can only hope the Executive Branch would put a hold on the draft EO.