THE chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development has strongly appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an executive order (EO) allowing the use of government-owned lands in pursuing on-site, in-city or near-city housing projects for the poor, including the 3,419 hectares in Metro Manila alone.
Panel chairman Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez, a stalwart of the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), said 1,234.85-hectare of government-owned lands are currently being occupied by informal settler families (ISFs) while the 2,185-hectare of public lands are idle and ready for housing programs.
“An order from the Palace or a law authorizing the use of idle government in Metro Manila to put up in city housing is a key to address the increasing housing backlogs in the capital,” said Benitez, adding that there is also 2,401.72-hectare of private lands being occupied by ISFs.
Earlier, the Benitez’s committee had endorsed for plenary approval a measure establishing a local government resettlement program that will implement an on-site, in-city or near-city strategy for ISFs.
Benitez is readying a bill mandating the government to give over state-owned lands for housing programs.
Quezon City Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo, a member of (PDP-Laban), supported the on-site, in-city or near-city housing projects for the poor being being implemented in his district.
“In the second district of Quezon City, many informal settlers in some barangays (Commonwealth, Batasan, Holy Spirit, and Payatas) have been benefitting from this program (on-site, in-city or near-city housing projects). The government-owned land in many barangays is being awarded to my poor constituents where they live,” said Castelo, who leads the program on development projects for the communities to ensure decent shelter and environment for his constituents that is near to their work.
“The on-site, in-city or near-city housing projects are the most effective way to provide decent housing and at the same time give dignity to the settlers,” said Castelo, who chairs the House committee on Metro Manila development.
Benitez said idle government-owned lands or properties could be used as sites for government and private sector socialized housing programs.
The House leader is also pushing for the creation of a Department of Human Settlement.
“(We need a) Department of Human Settlement that will supervise and manage government lands. In turn, (the agency will) just allocate the land for difference agencies for government structure and housing (programs). If we say Department of Human Settlement, it's not just for housing, it will also include urban planning that has to be strengthened,” Benitez explianed.
There are two measures pending in the Housing and Urban Development Committee instituting a national comprehensive framework on resilient housing and human settlements.