By Jovee Marie de la Cruz, January 7 2019; Business Mirror


Image Credit to Philippine Star

THE House of Representatives has urged the Senate to act on the proposal addressing the country’s problem on housing backlogs through disposition of idle government-owned lands.

The lower chamber already passed on third reading House Bill (HB) 8553, or the “Idle Government-Owned Lands Disposition,” which seeks to prescribe the mechanisms to facilitate the disposition of unused properties that are owned by the government for socialized housing.

The bill mandates the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) through the National Housing Authority (NHA), in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to prepare the inventory of all lands owned by the national government that have not been used for the purpose for which they have been reserved for the past 10 years.

Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), through local government units (LGUs), shall be in charge of preparing the inventory of all idle local government-owned properties within their respective areas.

The NHA, in coordination with the Land Management Bureau (LMB), shall use these inventories as references to identify the lands owned by the national government that are suitable for socialized housing.

Likewise, the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board shall provide aid to the LGUs in identifying the local government-owned properties that can also be used for socialized housing purposes.

The NHA and the concerned LGUs shall be authorized to enter into a joint venture agreement with private developers, as well as nongovernment organizations that are engaged in housing production to help implement the provisions of the bill.

To promote their participation in these projects, the private sector and the NGOs shall be given incentives pursuant to Section 20 of Republic Act 7279, or the “Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992” on incentives for private sectors participating in socialized housing.

The bill further stipulates that if these properties owned by the LGUs and the national government will not be used for socialized housing, they shall be sold, transferred, or encumbered for the purpose of developing them into industrial, commercial or other similar estates.

Otherwise, at least 10 percent of their proceeds shall be set aside for the development of socialized housing projects within, adjacent, or near the affected areas in the city or municipality.

The measure further provides that segregated lands or funds from the properties owned by the national government shall be utilized by the NHA as means for expanding socialized housing projects. In addition, the LGUs shall retain the lands they own and use them exclusively for socialized housing.

The HUDCC and the DENR shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations, including the mechanisms and procedures to make the inventory, as well as identify the lands suitable for socialized housing.

Earlier, House Committee on Housing and Urban Development Chairman Alfredo B. Benitez of Negros Occidental said 2,185 hectares public land is idle and 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.

Citing the HUDCC, the lawmaker said 2 million of the housing backlog were recorded in 2016.

He said there will be an estimated 774,441 housing needs in 2018; 788,773 in 2019; 803,405 in 2020; 818,363 in 2021 and 833,619 in 2022.

Benitez, meanwhile, said at least 1 million units should be constructed every year to address the country’s housing backlog.