The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to strengthen the right of government to expropriate lands for socialized housing.
House Bill 159, principally authored by Quezon City Rep. Christopher Belmonte, was passed unanimously.
The bill seeks to amend Sections 9, 10 and 11 of Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 in order to address the country’s “worsening” housing problem. It relaxes the rules that restricts expropriation of private lands as mode of acquisition and allows the expropriation of land amidst ownership issues.
Under the bill, government-owned subdivisions, instrumentalities or agencies may be acquired for socialized housing, including government-owned or controlled corporations and subsidiaries.
Alienable lands of the public domain and unregistered, abandoned or idle lands may also be acquired.
Those within the declared Areas for Priority Development, Zonal Improvement Sites and Slum Improvement and Resettlement Programs sites, Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services (BLISS) and privately-owned lands will also be open for socialized housing.
Local government units (LGUs) and the proper agency acquiring land for socialized housing will be given the power to identify and prioritize the particular area to be acquired.
LGUs and the National Housing Authority can also acquire government-owned and foreclosed properties through negotiated purchases, provided that the qualified beneficiaries who are actual occupants of the land will be given the right of first refusal.