PAG-IBIG Fund, also referred to as the Home Mutual Development Fund, a key agency of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), has committed P250 billion to the Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino program of the Marcos administration.
Meanwhile, Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito called on the DHSUD) to identify idle lands among the country’s urban centers that can host on-site, in-city, and near-city resettlement and community development.
In another development, Senator Raffy Tulfo expressed concern over the plight of informal settler-families (ISFs) who were relocated in areas lacking basic amenities and without access to mass transportation.
Housing Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar, who also heads the Pag-IBIG Fund board, has approved the allocation of P250 billion to the administration’s flagship housing program in the next six years.
“This is a huge boost to our President’s Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino Program—a giant step toward realizing the dream of every Filipino family to have decent, safe and affordable shelter,” he said.
“On behalf of those wishing to have their dream homes, my deepest gratitude to the members of the Pag-IBIG Fund board of trustees, especially to chief executive officer Marilene Acosta for your all-out support,” he added.
With assured funding support from Pag-IBIG Fund, the housing czar expressed optimism on the success of the program designed to address the country’s housing backlog estimated at more than 6.5 million units.
Under the program, the DHSUD was tasked by President Marcos to build one million houses annually over the next six years.
Meanwhile, Pag-IBIG Fund also signed a memorandum of agreement with Bacolod City Mayor Albee Benitez for the construction of 10,000 housing units for informal settler families.
The deal was the first MOA signed under the Pambansang Pabahay program, signaling the initial fruition of the government’s plan to address the housing needs in the country.
“The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development is in the right direction in providing adequate and affordable housing to fellow Filipinos,” Benitez said.
Acosta has committed to provide financial and technical assistance that DHSUD and the city government may need to realize the project.
“We fully welcome the direction of DHSUD in fast tracking, coordinating, and bringing together all sectors concerned towards the immediate implementation of housing project in the regions,” she said.
Ejercito said his suggestion echoes the President’s proposed executive order that seeks to reserved idle government lands for housing projects.
The proposal is part of Marcos’ vision of building around one million housing units per year or about six million houses by the end of his term.
“Here in Metro Manila, we are suprised there are thousands of hectares (of idle land). Some are inhabited by informal settler families,” he said during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Housing, which he currently chairs.
“What we can do there, the informal settler communities, we can redevelop it,” he said.
Ejercito asked the DHSUD to prioritize the identification of idle lands in the country’s three most populous metropolitan areas, namely Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.
Moreover, he said the national government should avoid using agricultural lands for its housing projects.
Tulfo stressed that the government should have a clear plan before letting informal settlers move into their new homes.
In particular, he underscored the need to communicate with utility companies to ensure that important services, including electricity and water, are already available on said housing and resettlement areas provided to ISFs.
The current practice of utility companies requiring a minimum number of people in the community before providing them with water and electricity lines should be removed because it only puts occupants at a disadvantage.
In calling for the need to address road problems in resettlement areas, Tulfo said that inhabitants, especially students, would still have to walk for one to two kilometers before having access to mass transportation.
DHSUD Undersecretary Avelino Tolentino III acknowledged the issues, saying that they will reviewing existing sites and make sure to provide lacking services and immediate needs of occupants.
He also proposed for the use of the National ID system to easily distinguish between ISFs and professional squatters that are taking advantage of the government housing program.
He shared that there are professional squatters who sell the property awarded to them to interested seller before looking for a new place to settle informally again.