The Philippine Star
By Paolo S. Romero
June 20, 2011
MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill allowing the disposition of government-owned lands for socialized housing projects for poor Filipinos to address the country’s housing problem.
Passed was House Bill 4578 or the “Idle Government-Owned Lands Disposition Act of 2011,” which mandates the Local Government Units (LGUs) to undertake urban development and housing projects for the benefit of the underprivileged and homeless citizens.
Under the measure, 10 percent of government-owned lands to be sold, alienated and encumbered for development purposes shall be segregated or allocated for socialized housing projects.
The bill directs the conveyance of the segregated land or fund to the National Housing Authority (NHA), for lands owned by the national government intended for the development of socialized housing projects.
However, for lands owned by the LGUs, the segregated land or fund shall be retained by the LGU concerned to be utilized exclusively for its socialized housing projects.
The measure authorizes the NHA and the local government unit to enter into a joint venture agreement or other similar agreements with private developers and non-governmental organizations engaged in housing production.
“The right to a decent housing of every Filipino is enshrined in our Constitution. Section 9 of Article XIII states that the State shall, by law, and for the common good, undertake, in cooperation with the private sector, a continuing program of urban and land reform and housing which will make available at affordable cost decent housing and basic services to underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban centers and resettlement areas,” said Nueve Ecija Rep. Joseph Gilbert Violago, one of the authors of the bill, said.
Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson, Jr., another author of the bill, said there is a need to improve the government’s housing program in order to make available at affordable prices decent housing and basic services to poor and homeless families all over the country.
“The acute housing problem compounded by indiscriminate squatting in the urban areas necessitates a forward-looking approach to answer this basic need of the people,” Singson said.
Quezon City Rep. Winnie Castelo, another author of the measure, said there should be continuing update to policies designed to address the problem of housing for the underprivileged if not for the homeless whose number or population has swelled through the years making the problem a constant menu in the country’s development agenda.
“Consistent with a rationalized land use plan, housing for the underprivileged could be set aside from government-owned lands for homeless Filipinos,” Castelo said.
Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, also an author of the bill, said the housing needs of the underprivileged and homeless in the country “is a problem that continuously paints a stark picture for the country’s economic managers and housing czars.”
“Our government is fast running out of available residential lands for its huge and ever-increasing population. It has to pursue a rational land use plan that will entail the rational allocation of the government’s scarce land resources to include housing for the underprivileged,” Biazon said.