The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has brought into the open perennial problems in the Philippines, particularly in metropolitan areas, such as Metro Manila: lack of decent housing leads to cramped living quarters, which are often prone to fires, and unnecessary constraints in the delivery of basic services, particularly health.
Citing the need to eradicate homelessness in the country, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go called for renewed support for a bill he has filed which aims to provide continuous funding support for a large scale, pro-poor housing program in the country.
Senate Bill No. 203, entitled “National Housing Development, Production and Financing (NHDPF) Act of 2019”, aims to institutionalize a program to address the housing needs of Filipinos by generating and mobilizing sustainable funds for housing, and encouraging public and private sector participation in the said program. The Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement has already conducted its first committee hearing on the said proposed measure and another one is yet to be scheduled.
“Bilang mambabatas, naniniwala tayo na walang dapat maging squatter sa sariling bayan,” Go said.
Go earlier said that he noticed that there is a lack of nationwide housing roadmap to ensure that every Filipino can have decent housing. This is the reason why he filed the NHDPF bill that seeks to reduce the country’s housing backlog. The proposed law aims to provide continuous funding support to implement the major components of the National Housing Development, Production and Financing Program even beyond the Duterte Administration.
The Senator called for renewed support for the legislation, acknowledging that many Filipinos want to relocate back to their home provinces after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nananawagan po ako sa mga kapwa kong mambabatas na suportahan ang NHDPF Act. Makakatulong din ito sa ating mga kababayan na gustong umuwi sa kanilang mga probinsya pagkatapos ng COVID-19 pandemic,” Go said.
As the proponent of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program, Go said that the NHDPF bill will complement the housing component of the BP2 Program as there is an increasing number of Filipino city dwellers willing to return home to their provinces to start life anew. According to the BP2 Program, grantees will be able to receive transitory packages, among other kinds of assistance, from the government, including livelihood and housing assistance, during its immediate and medium-term phases.
“Magandang kombinasyon ang NHDPF bill, kung maisabatas, at BP2 sa pagbigay ng sapat at maayos na housing sa ating mga kababayan,” Go said.
Senator Go also took the opportunity to call on relevant housing agencies, such as the National Housing Authority and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development to conduct a thorough inventory of available housing units and projects nationwide to prepare for the BP2’s medium phase. Go also urged Home Development Mutual Fund (PAG-IBIG) to establish more field offices in provinces for easier transactions and more accessible services on housing-related concerns.
“Nananawagan po tayo sa NHA, DHSUD, at iba pang relevant agencies na mag-conduct ng inventory ng available housing units para magkaroon tayo ng matching with BP2 beneficiaries. Importante rin ma-utilize ang mga available lands na pwedeng gamitin para sa housing programs,” Go said.
Under the proposed NHDPF Bill, the NHA will be the lead agency tasked to develop and implement various types of housing programs intended for the bottom 30% of the population in terms of income. Some of these programs are resettlements, housing programs for low-salaried government employees, settlements upgrading, housing programs of calamity victims, and land banking.
The DHSUD and its attached key shelter agencies are mandated to intensify the implementation of the National Housing Development Production and Financing Program.
“Hangarin natin na wala nang squatter sa sariling bayan. Gusto natin magkaroon ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino ng isang maayos at disenteng bahay,” Go said.
“Magtulungan tayo para tuparin ang pangako natin na magkaroon ng maganda at komportableng buhay ang bawat Pilipino,” Go added.