By Jovee Marie de la Cruz, February 26 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Philippine Star

THE recent enactment of Republic Act (RA) 11201 that paved the way for the creation of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), had vested the new housing agency with the power to take and administer government lands that have been idle for 10 years and utilize these for urban development.

Under the law, DHSUD will be empowered to own and administer government-owned lands, which have not been used for the purpose for which they have been originally reserved or acquired for at least 10 years and identified by the department as suitable for urban development.

The law said these included lands owned by the national government, or any of its subdivisions, instrumentalities, or agencies, including government-owned or -controlled corporations and their subsidiaries, provided that the lands held in trust by the GOCC for and on behalf of their members shall be excluded from the coverage.

House Committee on Housing and Urban Development chairman Alfredo Benitez, principal author of the law, said the new agency may also identify idle governments lands that may be developed for in-city housing. Earlier, Benitez said 2,185 hectares of public lands remain idle and are ready for housing programs. According to Benitez, the housing needs of Filipinos could balloon to 6.8 million before President Duterte’s term ends in 2022.

Meanwhile, the Partido ng Bayan ang Bida (PBB) party-list, which advocates affordable housing said, that RA 11201 is the first step towards ensuring affordable and decent housing for Filipinos.

PBB party-list nominee lawyer Imelda Cruz said the signing of RA 11201 had, in effect, built a stronger pillar toward ensuring affordable and decent housing for every Filipino.  “It is the dream of everyone to have access to affordable, decent and safe housing. With the recent enactment of RA 11201, leading to the creation of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, we are a step closer in making this Filipino dream of having a house that they can call their own become a reality,” Cruz said.

The same party-list group, however, called on the public on be on guard on the new law’s effective implementation in order that a truly comprehensive socialized housing program will be finally made available for the benefit of all.