THE head of a key Senate committee on housing is pushing for the passage of legislation that provides for the creation of a housing department and the promotion of in-city relocation in order to address the country’s housing problems.
At the Housing Solutions Congress organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) on Tuesday, Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, who heads the Senate Committee on Urban Planning,
Housing and Resettlement, said he will push for the passage of two legislative bills that will help address the country’s housing needs.
“In the 17th Congress, I am espousing the passage of the Creation of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, and the On-site, In-city or Near-city Resettlement Acts into law,” Ejercito said.
The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development will consolidate, rationalize and coordinate the functions and powers of the various key shelter agencies in order to facilitate the country’s housing needs quicker.
“The housing sector desperately needs a full-fledged Housing Department that would serve as the sole and main planning and policy-making, regulatory, program coordination, and performance monitoring entity for all housing and urban development concerns,” the senator said.
Among the agencies that will be consolidated are the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC), Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), and the National Housing Authority (NHA).
Ejercito emphasized that the bill seeking to create the Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD) was almost passed in the 16th Congress, as it reached the third reading.
“We were so close in passing the DHUD or the Department of Housing and Urban development bill, but sad to say because of the elections, we had a hard time finding a quorum,” Ejercito said.
Meanwhile, aside from the creation of a housing department, the senator is also pushing for the passage of the On-site, In-city or Near-city Resettlement Act.
Ejercito said the government evaluated whether off-city relocation to areas such as Rizal, Bulacan, and Cavite is still practical, since most of the relocated informal settlers choose to move back to Metro Manila due to lack of job opportunities, and lack of access to public services such as transportation, hospitals, and utilities.
“After much deliberation, we resolved during the Housing Summit to give a chance for in-city housing relocation to answer to the ISF situation. This was initiated through Memorandum Circular No. 87, which created the Inter-Agency Task Force that conducted a Land Inventory for the ISFs to live in Metro Manila. The building of vertical style and high-density housing, including recreational facilities such as parks, was proposed to maximize the use of idle lands for in-city housing and resettlement in Metro Manila,” Ejercito said.
Similarly, Vice President of the Philippines and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chairman Maria Leonor Robredo echoed Ejercito’s sentiment as she emphasized the prioritization of In-city relocation.
“We are prioritizing on-site, in-city developments. If that’s not possible, it must be off-site but in-city,” Robredo said during the same forum.
She also noted that importance of not just building houses, but building communities that have access to water, electricity, schools and jobs.
“Housing projects must blend seamlessly with the projects in the area. It must always be a total package solution,” the vice president said.
She added “We will not relocate families if the homes waiting for them are not total solutions to shelter needs. That means there will be no demolition without proper relocations.”