THE House of Representatives has passed on third and final reading a bill creating a Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.
With a vote of 193-6 without abstention, the congressmen approved House Bill 6775 which creates a separate department addressing the basic housing needs of Filipino families.
The bill aims to provide Filipino families easy access to decent and affordable homes.
Initiated by the House committee on housing and urban planning chaired by Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez, the bill proposed the consolidation of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).
Once signed into law, the new department will act as the primary national government entity responsible for the management of housing, human settlements and urban development.
As mandated under the bill, the department shall be the sole and main planning and policy-making, regulatory, program coordination, and performance monitoring entity for all housing, human settlement and urban development concerns, primarily focusing on access to and affordability of basic human needs.
It shall develop and adopt a national strategy to immediately address the provision of adequate and affordable housing to all Filipinos and to ensure the alignment of the policies, programs, and projects of all its attached agencies to facilitate the achievement of this objective.
The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development shall be headed by a Secretary and assisted by four Undersecretaries and four Assistant Secretaries to be appointed by the President.
It shall exercise administrative supervision over the following agencies which shall remain to be attached for purposes of policy and program coordination, monitoring and evaluation: National Housing Authority (NHA); Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC); National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC); Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF); and Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC).
It shall also establish SHOPCs or Socialized Housing One-Stop Processing Centers in the regions which shall centralize the processing and issuance of all required housing-related permits, clearances, and licenses in accordance with Executive Order No. 45, series of 2001 entitled “Prescribing Time Periods for Issuance of Housing related Certifications, Clearances and Permits, and Imposing Sanctions for Failure to Observe the Same.”
The bill seeks the reconstitution of the HLURB as the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission (HSAC) and its adjudication function shall be transferred to HSAC. It shall be attached to the proposed department as its adjudicatory body.
At present, there is an estimated housing backlog of around three to four million housing units in the country. While there is a huge housing backlog, it is ironic that there are government housing units that remain unoccupied to this day, according to the lawmakers.
Authors of the bill are Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas; Minority Leader Danilo Suarez; Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez; Deputy Speaker Linabelle Ruth Villarica; Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles; Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil and others.