Senator Raffy Tulfo and Senator Cynthia Villar got into a heated argument regarding the purchase of farmland by private developers to convert it into residential and commercial spaces.
The debate between the two senators happened during the 2023 national budget deliberation of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Tulfo asked Villar, who heads the Senate Committee on Agriculture, what the DA’s plan is regarding the shrinking agricultural lands in the provinces.
“Lumiliit po nang lumiliit ang ating farmland. Binibili po ng malalaking developer at ginagawang residential at commercial land. Ano po ang ginagawa ng DA tungkol dito?” the senator asked
“Alam ninyo that’s our business, I want to tell you that we don’t buy agricultural lands in the provinces. Nobody will buy houses on agricultural lands,” said Villar.
The senator also said that developers only buy houses in the city and capital towns because it is easy for people to sell the properties there.
“Because the buyer of houses, they also want an opportunity that if they’re having financial problems, they can resell their houses and you know, it’s very hard to sell houses [if it’s] not in cities or capital towns. So we limit ourselves in cities and capital towns,” she added.
However, Tulfo said he has proof that the farmlands are being subdivided.
Raffy Tulfo, Cynthia Villar debate on ‘farm to subdivision’ issue
“Kaya nga po ‘yan po ‘yung dahilan bakit ko po na maipasa na po ‘yung National Land Use Act,” said Tulfo.
Villar reiterated that developers do not buy agricultural lands. She said they are allowed to make subdivisions of land in the city.
“They allow conversion in cities and capital towns because if they buy your land, they buy it expensive and you can reinvest the money and you will make more money than planting on those lands,” she said.
Tulfo asked again about the DA’s action for the issue but the senator replied: “Where will the people live if you don’t build subdivisions?”
“Sorry po, madam ha. Hindi lang po sa Cauayan sa Isabela kundi sa marami pong probinsya na marami na pong subdivision na nagsilipana,” said Tulfo.
“Marami pong ibang lugar na pwede pong pagtayuan ng subdivisions. ‘Wag lang po i-take over ‘yung mga farms. Kung minsan ‘yung mga farmers dahil sila ay naghihikahos, they are taken advantage of,” he added.
Villar’s family runs Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc.– a property developer of the real estate and retail industries.