• Binay creates task force to address housing needs in Cebu, Bohol

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    TO ensure proper coordination of efforts in addressing the housing needs of earthquake victims in Bohol and Cebu, Vice President Jejomar Binay on Friday created a multi-agency task force.

    He said he has enlisted national government agencies and local government units (LGUs) to help in the rehabilitation of houses damaged or destroyed by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake.

    Binay, who chairs the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), said they will also tap the support of the private sector and the foreign community.

    “I believe it is more efficient to have a task force oversee our housing efforts in Cebu and Bohol. We can avoid duplication and overlap, and maximize government resources,” he added.

    The Vice President said aside from the shelter agencies under HUDCC, the Bohol-Cebu housing rehabilitation task force will include the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

    “The private sector and foreign agencies will also be talking to one government entity,” he said.

    The HUDCC is composed of the National Housing Authority, the Home Development Mutual (Pag-IBIG) Fund, the Home Guaranty Corporation, the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation, and the Social Housing Finance Corporation.

    According to Binay, the presence of local officials is important “since they have a better understanding of the local situation and conditions, and the needs of their people.”

    “We want to help the survivors not only in rebuilding their homes but more importantly, in getting their lives back to normal,” he added.

    Binay had earlier instructed housing agencies to extend assistance to the survivors of the earthquakes that hit Central Visayas.

    Pag-IBIG has allotted P4.5 billion for calamity loans for affected members in Cebu and Bohol.

    Pag-IBIG branches in the two provinces also deployed roving offices so members could easily apply for calamity loans and for loan moratorium.

    Under the calamity loan program, Pag-IBIG members may avail of up to 80 percent of their total savings. The loan may be paid over two years with a 3-month’s grace period at an interest of 5.95 percent per annum.

    Pag-IBIG also imposed a 3-month moratorium on the payment of housing loan amortizations. Borrowers must file their application for moratorium within 90 days after their area was declared under state of calamity.

    The NHA will provide home materials assistance for residents whose homes were partially damaged. For those with totally ruined houses that are in danger zones, NHA will offer resettlement.

    Other government housing agencies such as the Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC) and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation also offered moratoriums on loans incurred by those who are affected by the quake.

    According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, the magnitude 7.2 earthquake damaged 53,439 houses and affected 2.9 million people in 1,282 villages in Western and Central Visayas.

    RITCHIE A. HORARIO

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