The EnP Board Review Series: Part 5 – Your planning bibles

This is the fifth part of my EnP board review series, where we start off with the basic reading materials you’re supposed to know as a planner.

And there are three of them:

  1. Rationalized Planning System in the Philippines by Ernesto Serote
  2. Republic Act 7160: The Local Government Code
  3. HLURB CLUP Guidebooks and Supplemental Guidelines (since this is a series of books, it’s technically 3++ bibles)

Rationalized Planning System in the Philippines

Let’s start with the RPS, because this is the ultimate book for the exam. Believe me, studying it doesn’t stop at the board exam. I actually carry this book to wherever I travel for planning workshops, it stays with me in every hotel.

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 5.00.16 PM

As Serote puts it, planning is scattered, and for me, dysfunctional, in our country. Rationalizing the planning system brings together the principles, your baselines, the planning process, who’s in it, what its output is, and basically, how everything works out in Philippine planning.

What we get from the book

It lays the foundation of planning through the structure and the inevitability of local government function, and second, it provides in detail the combined process of the two mandated planning documents: the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the Comprehensive Development Plan. If you’re a SURP student or graduate, you’ve gone through this in Plan 203, Plan 210, and Plan 210.1. Or if you work for a local government, you may be familiar with some of the parts. But don’t be complacent. You may have produced plans, but there’s much more to just going through the process once or twice, or just contributing a portion of the plan.

I’m not making a book review, and I won’t write the questions or answers outright. But I can give a guide you can refer to while reading the RPS.


  • Remember that the CLUP has the four policy areas and equates to land use categories, while the CDP follows the five development sectors. There’s a difference.
  • Take note of the tools and techniques, especially in making socio-economic analyses (yes, Rachel Racelis’ Plan 214), these comprised the math component when I took the exam.
  • Master the urban form stereotypes in the book (yes, Plan 201). Not just the name and drawing; understand what the forms’ growth characterises in a city setting.
5 stereotypes from the many urban forms: Dispersed sheet, galaxy, core, star, and radial/nucleated. Sources: Rationalised Planning System; Kevin Lynch
  • Read all the success and development indicators. Don’t just breeze through the table, even if it lasts some pages.
  • Take note of who made which technique throughout the book, especially in evaluating urban forms. Also take note of the differences per technique. You’ll get to know Kevin Lynch, Nathaniel Lichfield, Morris Hill, and so on. (On the work of the latter two, look up GAM and CBA.) Look them up. Even if they’re in the footnotes, read what they wrote. As I said, RPS is your planning bible. The gods’ contributions are already summarised here.
  • The five development sectors depicted as a flower is important.
  • There are references made throughout the book. While most are from the Local Government Code (i.e. General welfare goals, the political-technical differentiation), some come from the 1986 Constitution, while others stem from laws and national plans like the Philippine Development Plan. After your first go on the RPS, read the references, then go through RPS again. You’ll have more understanding on the what’s, why’s, who’s and how’s. Remember, the more umbrella-ish in scope and nature, the deeper the context. RPS stems mainly from the LGC, while the LGC stems from the Constitution. Oh, and these references also pop up in the exam.
  • Remember that while the chapters of the book are read flat, its entirety is a cycle. And it is intercrossed with larger area plans and frameworks.
  • Don’t ever take the monitoring and evaluation chapter for granted.
  • The mandated planning documents are the CLUP and the CDP. Take note of the interplay with the EP, AIP, the LDIP, and ELA. These are all in the many frameworks in different chapters of the book.

Refer to this book again, and again, and again, and again. You learn from it every time you read it. Make a test to see if you really understand the contents. For example, make a blank chart of the four book modules and try to fill in the planning stages and outputs.

Aside from the online DILG version, RPS has an available regular circulation copy in the SURP Library.


The Local Government Code (RA 7160)

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 5.00.48 PM

The annotated copy I have at home is almost 2 inches thick. But reading it a couple of times furthered what I read from the RPS.

So, why go through the LGC? Aside from being the legal basis for local planning, the planning functions and the justifications for the political and technical aspects of planning are embedded in this law.

What we get from the law

Basically, we go through everything a local government is about. The whole LGC was written to devolve the national governmental functions to the local, and the provisions govern local. It covers provincial, city-, municipal, and barangay levels.

If you haven’t worked under a local government before (like me, I’ve only experienced national), reading the LGC will provide you the structure and functions of the local government. Down to what every officer in it does, what they’re responsible for, how funds and taxes are shared and utilised, and the rationale for how the local government is designed to tick like a well-oiled clock.


I encourage you to study the whole law, but I’m going to lift the sections which are always discussed in environmental planning. Place a stick-on on the following:

  • Sections 15 to 20, because they spell out the basis of local planning activities. Section 15 is the political and corporate nature of local government units, Section 16 is the general welfare clause, Section 17 lists all the basic services and facilities that should be provided (yes, read through all of them, and it’s good to make a matrix), Section 18 is the power to generate and apply resources (implementing development plans, levying taxes, creating revenue sources all go here), Section 19 is eminent domain (the right to take property for public use), and Section 20 is the reclassification of agricultural lands (15% for HUCs, 10% for component cities and first to third class municipalities, and 5% for fourth to sixth class municipalities).
  • Sections 106-116 tackle the Local Development Council’s composition and functions, among other related information.
  • Section 130 letter r discusses municipal waters, specifying the 15 kilometer boundary from the coastline (if water is shared by 2 municipalities, the boundary line is equally distant from the shores).
  • Section 285 discusses the allocation of IRA (internal revenue allotment) to local government units: Provinces and cities get 23% each, municipalities get 34%, while barangays get 20%. This is dependent on a formula: 50% for population, 25% for land area, and 25% equal sharing (meaning the balance of the IRA is divided equally among all recipients).
  • Section 384: The Barangay, Section 440: The Municipality, Section 448: The City, Section 459: The Province. And here’s the summary for the unit creation:

LGU Reqs Creation

Just to “clarify” the issue of HUC city income differences: Section 450 of RA 7160 states that the average annual income of a city should be at least 20M. Section 452 states that HUCs must have at least 50M.  BUT RA 9009 amends the LGC and specifies the amendment on only Section 450, changing the income of a city requirement to be 100M. The question we had during our review was if the HUC would follow suit and be required to have an income of 100M as well. The logic here is that the HUC has the higher requirements than the component and independent component cities. So my final answer for HUCs’ required income will be 100M. (Consult a lawyer, anyone?)

Other things you will find handy: The history of Philippine local governments. The annotated versions of the LGC have these in the introduction (I’m copying these from Rufus Rodriguez’ fifth edition). Let me put them here, as I almost took these for granted during my review:

  • Barangay was a settlement of 30 to 100 families and a governmental unit
  • Datu was the chief of the barangay and an absolute ruler, having all three powers of the government: legislative, executive, and judicial
  • Encomienda is the granted land that dissolved the barangays, superimposed by the Spanish government. Encomiendero collects the natives’ tributes.
  • Pueblos are municipalities, headed by the gobernadorcillo
  • Cabildos are cities, led by the 2 alcaldes
  • Provincias are provinces, led by the Alcalde Mayor
  • Barangays became barios while dates became cabezas de barangay
  • Jumping to the first Philippine republic (Aguinaldo x Mabini), the Malolos Constitution stated “the organization and powers of the provincial and municipal assemblies shall be governed by their respective areas,” moving away from the Spanish-dictated local government forms
  • During the Americans: Councils were instituted, and oversight by the central government to the local units was introduced
  • Prior to the LGC, there were the Revised Administrative Code, the Decentralisation Act, the Revised Barrio Chapter, until the LGC took into effect in 1991


  • Study the offices within the LGU, especially Planning and Development. Take note of the officers, budget guidelines, functions, and main outputs per office. With their embedded planning functions, try to link them all together. Draw a blank hierarchy to practice.

Aside from the online version, copies of RA7160 (also annotated ones) are available at National Book Store and Rex Book Store. Or you can borrow from lawyer / law student friends.


HLURB Guidebooks

There are 3 updated CLUP guidebooks, and there’s the new supplemental guidelines on DRR/CCA. What’s the difference with the old guidebooks? In the updated ones, we incorporate the ridge-to-reef approach in planning, as well as the new mandated elements of the CLUP.

While some board takers are worried about whether they should study the updated versions or the old ones, I recommend the updated ones. For the reasons that 1) you become up-to-date, and 2) it’s up to you to undertake a guidebook or law history trace, but I’ll help you with that in the post that covers the reading list. The updated versions have improved technical writing and illustrations which will aid in your study.

Difference with the RPS

So if this is about the CLUP all over again, what’s the difference with the RPS?

As the titles suggest, the RPS rationalizes the planning system, therefore it goes beyond the CLUP, which is the sole focus of the HLURB guidebooks. Also, while RPS has the same essence of going through the CLUP,  the HLURB guidebooks provide a very layman friendly, step-by-step, Gantt-chart inclusive plan, ready to be used by LGUs. It also provides a wide range of techniques, adding to Serote’s list, and illustrates all the technical analyses which are justified by the RPS.

What we get from the guidebooks

Volume 1: The Planning Process

The HLURB has a 12-step planning process, and this process is the entirety of Volume 1.

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 8.29.50 PM
The CLUP Process. Source: HLURB CLUP Guidebook Volume 1

This volume discusses the rationale of the CLUP from the different laws, and its linkage to other development plans.

Hierarchy and linkage of plans. Source: HLURB

Since this volume was written to be the reference for actual workshops, you may find this more useful when you’re doing actual facilitation. However, while it echoes the RPS, it also provides the more detailed and systematic system of doing land use planning. Every chapter provides an introduction, objectives, key inputs, expected outputs from the working groups, key participants, and the substeps per all of the 12 steps in the CLUP process.


Focus on the substeps provided. It’s not necessary to memorise anything, not even the order, because logic will guide you throughout the process. What’s important is that you know the essence of the steps in the cycle. For example, in preparing the land use plan (Step 7), you should know that the land demand and supply, overlay, and identification of land uses are to be undertaken. In this regard, Step 7 would also essentially require you to know what the land use categories are (Forestlands, Agricultural Lands, Water, etc), and it will also require you to conduct your analysis (i.e. land use conflicts and compatibilities).


Volume 2: Sectoral Analyses and Tools for Situational Analyses

Volume 2 is a compilation of all your Plan 214 techniques and Plan 299 research methodologies. It spans from pre-planning, analysis, to IEC. What we get:

  • Sectoral studies (according to development sector, so social, economic, etc…). These are the tools for gathering baseline data. In practice, this is what we put in the EP. Mainly, these cover data sourcing, surveys, filling in data tables, workshop games and activities, etc.
  • Ecosystem types and how to approach them for analysis.
Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 1.25.58 AM
Horizontal Transect of Ecosystems. Source: HLURB
Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.41.39 AM
Issue Mapping. Source: HLURB.
  • Volume 2 also provides special area studies, namely, green growth, urban design, heritage conservation, and ancestral domains. I’ll tackle the latter two more in the post on environmental laws.


  • If you’re a fellow SURP student, this is a review of Plan 203, Plan 214, and Plan 299. The sectoral analyses, as I said, is what you do in the EP. Therefore, an analysis of the social sector will contain the demographics and projections (population pyramids, cohorts) and social services (health, education, protection, etc). Economic analysis will have the location quotient, the base economies, and so on.
  • Take note of how the most basic analyses are done. Practice the math and stat.


Volume 3: Zoning Ordinance

Volume 3 basically translates your Volume 1 output, because the Zoning Ordinance is the implementation tool of the CLUP.

What’s very useful about this guide is that it pulls together all the laws, technical regulations, standards, and definitions you need to know before making the ZO. Per classification, the allowable uses and building regulations are outlined. For example, regulations in a Residential-5 (R5) Zone allows all uses from the R1-4 zones (such as single-detached dwelling units, residential subdivisions, etc.) and the building regulations are governed by the National Building Code and Presidential Decree 957.

Discussions on variances, exceptions, easements, buffers, green spaces, and other mitigating measures are in this volume.

Tip: Have your copies of the environmental laws beside you when you read this volume for quick reference.

Supplemental Guidelines on Mainstreaming DRR/CCA in the CLUP

RA 10121 (Philippine Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Act of 2010) and RA 9729 (Climate Change Act of 2009) require the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction and climate change into frameworks, policies, and processes. The supplemental guidelines were created for this purpose.

This volume is highly technical, but with the steps given, is also easy to follow. It also provides sample tables and outputs–maps, exposure tables, adaptive capacity scores, and the like–so you get to have a basis in practicing the methods.

The supplemental guidelines look at two main things: Climate and disaster risk, and the formulation of a risk-sensitive land use plan. The reduction of risk (exposure to loss or danger) is how the guidelines enhance the land use plan strategies.


  • Be familiar with the technical definitions.
  • Study the key information of the steps, as well as the assessment implications.

What’s very handy about the HLURB guidebooks is that each chapter is formatted, so you can easily locate the text you want to review. The basic tasks and activities per step are all outlined, and a Gantt chart format can be used to keep the planning activities on track.

During my time, the new guidebooks had only been released. Some were concerned on whether they would have to read the books because the contents might not be included in the exam. But then again, what’s the point of being called a professional planner without knowing the official guidelines to the most basic planning output? And as they say, knowledge is power.

As far as I know, the HLURB guidelines are only available online. If you’re planning to print (since you will also be using this thoroughly during practice), have about a ream of paper ready because the guidebooks are thick, except for Volume 3.

~ ~ ~

Let’s go to your other must-know’s.


11 thoughts on “The EnP Board Review Series: Part 5 – Your planning bibles

  1. is it Applicable still next year, to take exam according to that RA, am i still qualified? im a grad of BSC economics, tnx po. online review po meron po ba


  2. Your review materials did help me a lot in my journey to environmental planning ( and passed my licensure exam,too). Personally, I truly appreciate this “informative” sharing of notes. Thank you very much .


  3. Thank you! Your review materials can help me a lot for taking a environmental planner board this June 5-6, 2019.


  4. Ma’am, please where can the HLURB CLUP Guidebook ‘Volume I ‘The Planning Process’ 2014 edition be donwnloaded from? Latest I have seen so far is the 2013 edition even on the HLURB site. Much thanks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s