House passes bill ensuring land for socialized housing

Published December 26, 2018, 3:38 PM

by Dhel Nazario, Jeffrey G. Damicog, and Rey G. Panaligan

By Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives has passed on third and final reading, a bill that will ensure availability of sufficient land for socialized housing by tapping idle government land for the purpose.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez said House bill 8553 or the ”Idle Government-owned Lands Disposition Act” was approved following a 203 affirmative and 2 negative voting on the floor early this month.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez (  / MANILA BULLETIN) 
Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez (  / MANILA BULLETIN)

Aside from ensuring sufficient land for socialized housing projects, the bill also seeks to improve the capability of local government units to undertake urban development and housing projects, said Benitez, chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development.

The bill consolidated bills authored by Reps. Gus Tambunting (PDP-Laban, Paranaque City); Rozzano Rufino Biazon (PDP-Laban, Muntinlupa City); Eric Singson (PDP-Laban, Ilocos Sur); Winston Castelo (PDP-Laban, Quezon City) and Benitez.

Benitez said the measure seeks to ensure the availability of sufficient land for socialized housing and address the huge housing backlog being experienced in the country.

Inventory of idle gov’t land

It directs the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to conduct an inventory of all idle government-owned lands which have not been used for the purpose for which they have been reserved for the last 10 years.

Benitez explained that the measure also proposes to improve the capability of local government units in undertaking urban development and housing programs.

According to Benitez, the bill also mandates the Department of Interior and Local Government, through the local government units, to conduct a similar inventory of all idle lands in the municipality level and furnish HUDCC a copy of its list.

As soon as the idle lands have been identified, the National Housing Authority (NHA) will have to immediately act to build housing units for the homeless in national government lands.

Once identified and reserved for socialized housing purposes, the NHA and Land Management Bureau will identify which lands are suitable for socialized housing.

Concerned LGUs, on the other hand, will develop their own segregated land with the help of the NHA.

10% gov’t land

On the other hand, Castelo, chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, has proposed that at least 10 percent of unused government owned lands be segregated for socialized housing projects.

“Consistent with a rationalized land use plan, housing for the underprivileged could be set aside from government owned lands for homeless Filipinos,” said Castelo.

The NHA and LGUs are authorized to enter into joint venture agreements with private developers and non-governmental organizations to implement the socialized housing program.

Exempted from inventory are lands acquired by government financial institutions and government-owned or controlled corporations engaged in shelter financing.  Lands these agencies hold in trust will not be covered by the legislative proposal.