Facing eviction for P134-M unpaid rent, 80 ISFs might return to 'home along the riles'

Published May 14, 2021, 10:17 PM

by Ben Rosario

At least 80 informal settler families who were relocated to a housing project in San Jose Del Monte are in danger of eviction for being unable to pay rental fees that have ballooned to P134,768,297.

This was gathered in the 2020 annual audit report of the North Luzon Railways Corporation (Northrail) that the Commission on Audit released recently.

In the report submitted to the Northrail management by COA Director Elsielin C. Masangcay,, the state audit agency appeared unconvinced it can the railway firm could still recover the arrearages,. bulk of which consisted of penalties for non-payment of lease.

Each family will have to pay at least P1.68 million each.

“The collectability of the long standing receivables in the total amount of P134.768 million is doubtful due to the non-enforcement of the terms and conditions of the contracts of lease between Northrail and the relocatees of Harmony Hills properties,” COA said.

The 80 families were part of the ISFs that used to occupy the right of way of the Northrail project in Caloocan City. A total 151 families were relocated in 2001 to Harmony Hills, San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan.

COA said only 149 families entered into a Contract of Lease with Pption to Purchase with Northrail.

“The original contracts provided for a three-year non-renewable lease period commencing in 2001 and ending in 2004,” COA said.

However, several ISF’s, apparently having little or no means of paying the monthly lease, proposed an extension of the term of the contract that was granted. Thus, the lease was extend from 2004 to 2007.

“Despite the amendments to the contracts, 81 relocatees occupying the units were still unable to pay the arrearages and therefore cannot exercise the option to purchase the unit,”:noted COA.

State auditors noted that Northrail has failed to protect the interest of government as rental dues from the 81 ISF’s ballooned to P134.76 million as of December 30, 2020.

According to COA penalties for late payment totaled P89.28 million while arrearages and rentals were computed at P18,980,184 and P26,506,143, respectively.

In response to the audit observation, the Northrail management has recommended the filing of eviction cases against delinquent beneficiaries of the housing project.

According to the management collection of dues from relocatees is a common recurring problem among government agencies enaged in housing and relocation programs.