LGUs asked to factor climate change adaptation in housing programs

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 May) – Vice-President Jejomar Binay has asked local governments to include climate change adaptation measures in their land use and land development plans for housing, as the Pagibig Fund announced the portfolio fund this year reaching P5 billion for housing programs would be mainly coursed through them.

Binay also disclosed that government would rush to fill in the housing backlog of 3.7 million units.

The twin announcements coincided with the regional housing caravan mounted by the key agencies under the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

Binay has offered the services of the HUDCC-member agencies to the LGUs to assist the latter in crafting their comprehensive land use plan, formulating a housing program for both the formal sector and the informal settlers, and drawing up a site development plan.

“But make it sure that you include risk reduction actions and adaptation measures to climate change,” he told participants to the housing summit on Thursday called by the vice president for the Southern and Southwestern Mindanao regions.

The summit themed “Strengthening Local Government Units in Housing Delivery and Local Development Planning” was held at the Marco Polo Hotel here.

Agencies like the National Housing Authority and the Socialized Housing Finance Corp. (NHA), the newest national shelter agency, showed again their mandates at providing affordable housing to Filipinos but emphasized that those living in danger zones and risk areas should be prioritized.

The country’s housing thrust is to tap the local governments in putting up housing projects for government employees, private workers and those living in the slums where the national housing agencies used to tap private developers.

Binay said government hopes that the partnership with LGUs would help eliminate the backlog in 10 years. He added that aside from the big Pagibig Fund allocation for this year, “we would expect a big amount, about P5 billion from the Government Service Insurance System, which would transfer its housing financing program to the Pagibig”.

He said the SSS may likewise follow.

Ma. Ana Oliveros, president of the SHFC, said her agency would reduce the number of requirements and trim down processing time from two years to only six months to encourage more local government participation. Its corporate board met on Monday to identify the items that would be removed from the list.

The SHFC caters to the localized community mortgage program, the new version of the CMP where the local governments assist homeless families to form a housing association and lobby for assistance to acquire land and put up their houses.

Local government executives said during the open forum in the summit that in the past they distanced themselves from the national government housing program due to stringent documentary and processing requirements and lack of funds to buy lands and subsidize the construction of housing units.

Lawyer Darlene Marie B. Berberabe, chief executive officer of the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), or commonly called Pagibig Fund, said that the agency would coordinate with the LGUs to craft ways “that would not make them shell out more funds than they should, or not at all”.

“My problem now is how the LGUs would tap this P5-billion fund. Can you help me?” she asked the governors and mayors who attended.

Four governors from Southern Mindanao went to the summit: Douglas Ra. Cagas of Davao del Sur, Arthur Uy of Compostela Valley, Rodolfo del Rosario of Davao del Norte and Corazon Malanyaon of Davao Oriental.

Del Rosario said he would still evaluate how his province would tap into the climate change and risk reduction angle being tendered by the housing agencies in offering the housing fund noting that the thrust of Binay to prioritize the informal settlers includes those living in danger zones like riverbanks, hill slopes and coastal areas.

But Pantukan Mayor Cesar Sarenas, whose place was the scene of a landslide that killed 14 persons and left nine others missing, said that the families living in the uplands, especially those in the small-scale mining areas, may not be included in the housing program.

“We would focus on the poblacion area because it would be difficult to establish a formal housing settlement in the mountains,” he said. “What we would do is, maybe, to compel the families to leave the steep slopes and find resettlement in safer areas in the mountain.”

The vice mayor of Lupon, Davao Oriental suggested that the HUDCC “complete your assistance, by buying the land itself for the project and to finance the construction”.

The agencies said that the identification and acquisition of the land would be the least that the local governments could put up as counterpart. (MindaNews)