Davao City passes shelter code

Fifteen of the 20 councilors present voted for the passing of the “Comprehensive Urban Shelter and Services Development Code of Davao City,” the country’s first local government-initiated shelter code, said Councilor Arnulfo Cabling, chair of the Committee on Housing, Rural and Urban Development.

"We hope to celebrate Independence Day in a more meaningful way. The Shelter Code is an important ordinance especially for the urban poor sector demanding freedom from landlessness," Virgie Bayo, president of the Kobbler Federation of Neighborhood Associations and convenor of the Shelter Code Alliance said in an earlier statement.

Councilors who did not belong to proponent committee proposed amendments which Cabling considered as "minor adjustments.”

Councilor Victorio Advincula raised questions on the possibility of proposing amendments when Councilor Bonifacio Militar stressed amendments are no longer allowed during the third and final reading.

Last week the proposed legislation was sent to the Committee on Rules after Militar pointed out it had not been reviewed by the committee.

Several issues on technicalities and proposed amendments to the council's house rules were brought up , delaying the voting until after lunch.

Majority Floor leader Emmanuel Galicia even raised a motion to withdraw the item from list of items "for third and final reading" to accommodate debates but the other members of the council, after at least four prolonged breaks, decided to go for the vote.

Councilors Advincula and Danilo Dayanghirang raised manifestations that their intent to forego the vote and allow amendments are to ensure the legislation will not be vetoed by the chief executive.

Shortly after 12:30 p.m. the councilors voted to pass the ordinance.

The approval of the code was cheered by more than a hundred supporters from urban poor and informal sector groups in the city. 

Bayo told reporters minutes after the vote they were overjoyed that it has been finally passed.  

Teary-eyed, Bayo told reporters they listened intently to the deliberations fearing they might have to go back to zero in the next council.

Cabling said the legislation will be checked by the City Legal Office before it will be passed for Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

He said the first immediate expected outcome after effectivity is the creation of the Local Housing Board which shall be composed of a wider set of representation from urban settlement stakeholders, including urban poor.

Cabling cited the legislation will change the way the city government and other sectors work on urban housing with a legislated budget and coordinated programs intended with focus on the city's housing woes.

The city government has considered shelter as one of its priority programs.

"The city has an enormous shelter backlog. Majority of the urban-poor, especially those whose present dwelling units are along danger zones and those who will be affected by the implementation of major infrastructure projects look forward to being assisted in acquiring decent shelter," the city government posted in its website.

The city considered a comprehensive shelter program “to address the informal settlers and the problems of squatting in public and private lands. The assessment of existing relocation and resettlement sites must be undertaken and an appropriate upgrading program formulated. Provisions must be made for the acquisition of lands that are suitable relocation sites," according to the city government's thrust programs.