Social Injustice, Squatter Dilemma and Housing Needs (Part II)

Addressing our Housing Needs

Atty. Jose "Joey" Lina, former Laguna governor and former senator of the Philippines with Mr. Ramon CF Cuervo III.

Atty. Jose “Joey” Lina, Former Laguna Governor,Senator of the Philippines with Mr. Ramon CF Cuervo III.

In the Philippines, Republic Act No. 7279 or the Urban Development Housing Act of 1992 (UDHA), authored by Atty. Joey Lina, provides that certain lands owned by the government may be disposed of or utilized for socialized housing purposes. It was signed into law to address the housing shortage of the country.

The Act lays down the groundwork for a comprehensive and continuing urban development and housing program. It addresses the right to housing of the homeless and underprivileged Filipino people. This law seeks to provide social housing to the marginalized sector by addressing their access to land and housing, relocation, demolitions, and promoting private sector participation in housing.

The Republic Act 7279, which is no longer new to us, is still a subject of controversy especially to the businessmen,landowners and taxpayers. Basically, its contention is a misunderstanding of the Spirit of the Law, the Implementation of the Law and the People who are taking advantage of the Law – i.e. Professional Squatters.

Mr. Ramon CF Cuervo III and Vice President Jejomar Binay, Chairman of Housing & Urban Development Coordinating Council (UDCC)

Mr. Ramon CF Cuervo III and Vice President Jejomar Binay, Chairman of Housing & Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC)

Last 2013, Vice President Jejomar Binay, came to the rescue as he cited Republic Act (RA) 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992 as an effective tool of the government to provide security and housing tenure for the homeless poor.

VP Binay, also the chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), said the UDHA was instrumental in the reforms made in the housing sector that will benefit the poor particularly the informal-settler families (ISFs).

“UDHA united all the stakeholders of the housing sector paving the way for the delivery of socialized housing to the informal-settlers,” It (UDHA) not only provides opportunity, but the rights to urban poor to have their own houses and lots,” he added.

In part one of my article I strongly mentioned that a squatter settlement, which has a “non-legal” status, usually has services and infrastructure below the “adequate” or minimum levels. This is the common complaints of squatters set for relocation. A settlement should include enough services both in network and social infrastructure, like water supply, sanitation, electricity, roads and drainage; schools, health centers, market places etc.

This, in my opinion is very good, for it answers the need for social justice and respect for the dignity of the homeless persons. Settlements must address and meet  the basic needs of the person and their families.

To add support, a research entitled EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS REVIEW OF THE NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY (NHA) RESETTLEMENT PROGRAM, by Marife M. Ballesteros and Jasmine V. Egana, for NHA, cited several needs to satisfy in order to have a proper resettlement program. The following should be involve:

  1. The relocation of informal families on government and public land into developed sites with housing component;
  2. Housing support which includes capital outlay for livelihood facilities. Livelihood assistance is provided in communities to skills training, job placements, scholarship programs livelihood-based projects including credit loan assistance of concerned
  3. Land Acquisition.

The research added that resettlement projects must be undertaken in four phases

  1. Pre relocation/Social Preparation
  2. Relocation
  3. Post relocation and
  4. Estate Management

The question lies to whether such requirements was met and/or followed, in the present and future resettlement projects. One must also look into its sustainability.

Promises: Facts or Fiction

There have been many discussions and declarations about urban housing since President Aguino took over the presidency last 2010.

President Noynoy Aquino, in 2011, said that more than half a million squatter families in Metro Manila will be relocated and receive two hectares of farm land each under his administration’s program on illegal settlers. He said the government has “identified” some 1.5 million hectares of farmland that could be distributed to initial “560,000” squatter families in Metro Manila in a bid to decongest the capital and improve agricultural production nationwide. He then unveiled a P50-billion relocation or P10 billion a year until he steps down in 2016, plan to provide on-site or in-city housing for the 100,000 families of informal settlers living near “danger zones” such as estuaries, waterways, rivers and creeks.

In 2007, based on a study by Jeanette Cruz, the total number of IFS’s totaled to 550,771. In the same year, Metro Manila Inter-Agency Committee on Informal Settlers (MMIAC) said that one out of every five residents in Metro Manila is a squatter with 544,609 households, representing 21% of the total 2.6 million households’ population.

Last June 24, 2013, right after the government announced the P18,000 rental subsidy the 20,000 beneficiaries ballooned to 79,185 families, within a few days?

What is the basis of the information and data about housing?  Up to this time, I often get different facts, figures and research conclusions.

Actual solutions


Mayor Herbert "Bistek" Bautista and his project Bistekville

Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista and his project Bistekville

The Quezon City government, headed by Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista kicked- off the Bistekville in-city housing project. The project which is meant for informal settlers can also be availed by low-income families willing to pay the monthly amortization.

Bisketville 1, (Payatas) and Bistekville 2 (Barangay Kaligayahan) is already finished while Bisketville 3, located at Barangay Escopa will begin construction soon.

The QC government so far, has constructed 1,000 houses in the Bisketville  1 & 2. The design of the houses is usually the loft-type and two-story socialized housing units.

Bistekville 4 in Barangay Culiat Bistekville 5 in Barangay Payatas, Bistekville 6 in Barangay North Fairview is still in planning.


Bistekville 1 and 2


Atty. Chito M. Cruz, General Manager of National Housing Authority

Atty. Chito M. Cruz, General Manager of National Housing Authority

The National Housing Authority (NHA) currently has 10 housing projects in various stages of development and construction that will generate 6,426 worth P3.2 of  housing units for 31,275 informal settler families (ISFs) living in danger areas in Metro Manila, according to Vice President Jejomar C. Binay

The 10 projects will include the Smokey Mountain Development Project; the Tala 2 Medium Rise Building and Camarin housing projects in Caloocan City; Pleasant Hills in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan; Gulayan and Tanglaw in Navotas; MMDA Depot in Pasig City; the National Government Center housing project in Quezon City; Disiplina Village 2 in Valenzuela; and the Navotas Housing Project.

Based on the data gathered by the NHA from local government units in 30 percent of families are living in danger zones in Quezon City, while 26,029 families or 25 percent are in Manila.

Medium Housing in Caloocan, Pasig and Muntinlupa

Medium Housing in Caloocan, Pasig and Muntinlupa

The NHA previously identified the Pasig River, stretching from Manila, Mandaluyong, Makati and Pasig; the San Juan River, covering Manila, Mandaluyong, San Juan, and Quezon City; Tullahan river spanning Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon, and Valenzuela; the Manggahan Floodway in Pasig; Maricaban Creek in Pasay, Makati, and Taguig; and the Tripa de Gallina covering Makati and Pasay.


Relocated families from San Juan River to San Jose Bulacan (NHA Project)

The rest of the affected ISFs will be relocated in Balagtas, Bocaue and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan and Trece Martirez, Cavite.

Department of Budget and Management (DBM)

In 2012, according to Department of Budget and Management (DBM), SHFC financed 100 projects, worth P549 million, as housing assistance for 9,287 informal settler families.

Currently, DBM has released 1 billion to fund a government initiative for land tenure ship loans for informal settler families. The allotment was released last July to the Social Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp., a government-owned and -controlled entity.  The funds will support loans to in-need and informal settler families under the SHFC’s Community Mortgage Program (CMP).

The loans will enable poor families from flood-prone or high-risk areas to relocate and other organized IFCs to secure the land they are currently occupying through the land tenure ship/mortgage program.

DBM released P374 Million as subsidy and requirements for relocation to DSW. The subsidy will enable 20,000 families of informal settlers living along waterways in Metro Manila, to receive P18,000 so they can rent decent and safe homes elsewhere for 12 months while officials are looking for a place to resettle them permanently. DBM has identified and will distribute the funds to the following areas.


Amount Released by DBM to DSWD = P374M (subsidy and requirements for relocation)

Rental Subsidy = P18,000/family x 19,440 families = P349M for the esteros only

Annual goal = 20,000 squatter families / year for 5 years

Housing Sector Concerns

In the recently concluded Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP) and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) 4th National Convention housing seminar done at Davao, HUDCC deputy secretary general Wendel E. Avisado said that due to urbanization, the housing sector is facing problems on housing needs, budget allocation from the government, climate change, and scarcity of non-flood prone lands. He added that these problems may not be resolved in the short term.

In his presentation, Avisado said that for developing countries, urbanization has always been a challenge. Currently, the country’s urbanization rate is at 49 percent.

“With urbanization, critical issues that plague Philippine urban development: high poverty incidence, environmental degradation, and lack of urban housing and the proliferation of slums and informal settlers,” he said.

He added that by 2016, the housing need will be estimated to reach 5.7 million units. By that time, an estimated 584,425 informal settler families (ISFs) will be in Metro Manila alone, with 104,219 ISFs living in danger areas.

In line with the recent call for reforms in housing, such as affordability, the issue of informal settlers and the policies governing the industry, the country’s largest housing development group will need to tackle these issues of concern.

Mr. Ramon CF Cuervo III and Chairman and Board of Director of Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA) Mr. Bansan Choa

Mr. Ramon CF Cuervo III with Chairman and Board Member, Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA) Honorable Bansan Choa

The Subdivision and Housing Developers Association Inc. (SHDA) will host the 22nd National Developers’ Convention and General Membership Meeting with the theme “Groundwork:  Shaping a Sustainable Housing Industry” to be held on September 26-27, 2013 at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City.

The convention will be highlighted by SHDA’s much anticipated Housing Industry Roadmap: Year 1 Report.  The association presented a comprehensive plan last year to address the Philippines’ housing backlog. Without intervention, the housing backlog is expected to rise to over 6.4 million units by 2030.

Through the full support of government and other institutions, the SHDA roadmap details shows how the industry can eliminate the backlog of housing in the Philippines.

The developers’ convention will also focus on long running housing concerns with the aim of producing reports and resolutions on streamlining the housing permit process, increasing access to affordable housing, and exploring options in end-user financing.

Housing developers and real estate professionals, including non-members of SHDA, are expected to attend the convention.


With all the facts given, there are several questions and issues to discuss.

Are the statistics accurate? Most of the figures presented are above the half-million mark. However, different numbers or estimates are given by different government agencies. Even the housing authorities are not in harmony.  Undersecretary Edwin Lacierda commented “where did these families came from and that in a span of few days, new shanties were above the original occupants”, after the 20,000 beneficiaries of the P18,000 rental subsidy, ballooned to 79,185 families.

How about the relocation sites? Is it off-site, on site? Or the IFSs will be sent back to provinces. How about the homeless, those living in the streets and pushcarts? Are they counted?

The Authorities in Implementing the Housing projects: The LINA Law empowered LGU’s, NHA, and other government agencies to tackle the housing needs, adding more confusion.

Even DILG Secretary Mar Roxas is joining the urbanization issue. In the course of a House budget hearing, Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco, Secretary-general of Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance, asked Roxas about the legal basis of Aquino’s decision to involve him in the relocation of squatters along Metro Manila’s waterways and in the building of housing units for them. It’s a good thing they have patched up their differences and work together for the sake of the IFSs.


Majority Senator Loren Legarda and Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas, Secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government

Senator Loren Legarda has revived the proposed creation of a Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD), a bill that was approved by the Senate in the 15th Congress but was not acted upon by the House of Representatives.

In a statement, Senator Legarda emphasized the need to consolidate the work of different government agencies on housing and urban development into one department, the head of which would be a member of the President’s Cabinet.

She added said that the proposed DHUD would help address the “four million housing backlog”, which affects about one-fourth of the Philippine population.

The proposed DHUD would take over the functions of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the planning and regulatory functions of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, cover all housing and urban development concerns, primarily focusing on the access to and affordability of housing and related basic services vital to human needs.

The DHUD would also be tasked to ensure the availability of basic services and facilities, accessibility and proximity to job sites, and other economic opportunities in the development of housing and resettlement areas for the poor. The bill would also streamline the processes involved in securing homes for private individuals as well as those covered by the government’s housing programs by eliminating unnecessary and duplicative information requirements.

My closing advice is that Developers, Government, LGU’s need to set a concrete plan for regional expansion and development.

There is no need to clutter Metro Manila, rather we need to grow and develop our provincial cities and municipalities.

RCFC wd childern

Ramon CF Cuervo III with N. Domingo st. Cubao , street children.

In this way our provinces will create jobs and people down to the grassroots will benefit economically, socially and financially from these rural settlements or the creation of new cities.

In my next article, I will expand on the creation of new urban centers and settlements.


Business World

Philippine Star

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