Senate panel supports appeals for increase in budget of new housing department

Published August 5, 2019, 5:17 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola 

A Senate panel is supporting appeals for an increase in the budget of the new Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) to keep up with the government’s housing backlogs.

Senate of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Senate of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In the briefing with the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement Monday, officials of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) reported that the housing sector was allocated only about P3 billion for 2019.

This accounts to only 0.08 percent of the more than P3-trillion national budget for this year.

HUDCC chairman Eduardo del Rosario lamented the low allocation for housing despite the creation of the DSHUD under the Republic Act 11201 signed by  President Duterte last February.

While the department has yet to formally operate, HUDCC hopes to be able to build 409,785 units by 2022 to meet the country’s housing needs.

Del Rosario said this would require a total of P182.9 billion or an average of P62 billion per year.

Sen. Francis Tolentino, the new chairman of the urban planning and housing committee, asked the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to explain the decrease in the budget for housing.

He said the DBM should no longer wait for the six months before granting the budget increase.

“30 years tinrabaho [‘yong batas], iyong pag-iimplement ang mahirap, kaya  (The law took 30 years to be passed, but its implementation is more difficult that’s why) the committee assists the newly-born department to function,” he told reporters in an interview after the briefing.

RA 11201, which will take effect on August 15, stipulated a six-month transition period for the merging all housing agencies to the DHSUD. The DHSUD is expected to operate on January 2020.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, in the briefing, however, said the government should make sure that the houses to be built will be occupied to avoid the wastage of funds and the repeat of the illegal takeover of militant groups.

Last year, members of the urban poor group Kadamay trooped and took over the housing projects in Bulacan and Rizal, which were not occupied by their original beneficiaries.

National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. said policemen and soldiers did not have intentions to pursue the “very far, very small, very poorly constructed” units. But said the issue was already addressed and that the government was improving the quality of its housing projects.

Tolentino told the agencies to submit by November its inventory of available public lands in the country where the lacking housing units could be built.