Housing program benefits marginalized sectors of society, informal settler families living along danger zones, and calamity survivors

January 7, 2014 11:23 am 

MANILA, Jan. 6 — In 2013, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, as chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), pushed for housing projects for the marginalized sectors of society, the relocation of informal settler families (ISFs) living along danger zones, and the rebuilding of homes for calamity survivors.

The National Housing Authority made progress in the relocation of 104,219 ISFs living in danger or flood-prone areas in Metro Manila in the past year.

In August, an initial batch of ISFs living along the San Juan River relocated to San Jose Heights in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan, one of the government’s resettlement sites under the ISF Housing Program.

To date, NHA has assisted in the relocation of some 34,000 families.

Binay said the plan to relocate all ISFs living in danger zones in five years is a “special project” of the government, which was given its own P50-billion budget by President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2011.

Believing in equal housing opportunities for all, the Vice President instructed the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-IBIG Fund) to expand its membership base to include workers from the informal sector and focused on working with transport groups to assist them in providing homes to as many of their members as possible.

Pag-IBIG Fund then entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with some of the biggest transport groups in the country, including Pasang Masda and Asian Utility Vehicle Drivers and Operators Association Inc. (AUVDOA) and allowed member drivers and operators affiliated to buy housing units through the Fund’s Home Matching Program.

Under the Home Matching Program, Pag-IBIG provides the transport groups with the list and description of its acquired properties. Interested members may inspect the units and then choose which to avail of, depending on their capability to pay.

Units will be paid through Pag-IBIG housing loans, with monthly amortizations ranging from P1,500 to P3,500.

The government also started construction of housing units set to benefit various indigenous groups in the country, a pet project of the Vice President.

NHA is currently constructing 1,365 housing units for the Aetas in Pampanga, Mangyans in Occidental Mindoro and Badjaos in Tawi-Tawi.

The Vice President said 208 units have been completed, with Occidental Mindoro having the most number of units constructed so far at a hundred, followed by Tawi-Tawi with 92 and Pampanga, 16.

Another 400 units are expected to be built for the indigenous people in Banguingui and Panglima Estimo towns and Barangays Tulay and Pitogo, all in Sulu.

Moreover, Binay enlisted national government agencies and local government units to help in the rehabilitation of houses damaged or destroyed by the earthquake that hit Central Visayas and by super typhoon Yolanda that devastated much of Eastern Visayas.

The Vice President also instructed housing agencies to extend assistance to the survivors of the earthquake and typhoon.

Pag-IBIG Fund, for one, has allotted P4.5 billion for calamity loans for affected members in Cebu and Bohol. Pag-IBIG branches in the two provinces also deployed roving offices so members could easily apply for calamity loans and for the loan moratorium that the agency declared in view of the calamity.

Pag-IBIG Fund and other government housing agencies such as the Home Guaranty Corporation and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation also offered moratoriums on loans incurred by those who were affected by the quake and typhoon, while the NHA released P388 million to local government units for the repair of partially damaged houses in Bohol.

Binay also ordered the review of old Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs) of local government units severely affected by typhoon Yolanda with the review focusing on the effects of climate change and the adoption of risk reduction measures.

Meanwhile, the fight to bring Globe Asiatique (GA) owner Delfin Lee to justice gained significant stride in 2013 as the Court of Appeals (CA) issued a Temporary Restraining Order against the implementation of a Makati court’s ruling in favor of a civil suit filed by Lee against Pag-IBIG.

The Vice President had previously ordered the filing of syndicated estafa charges against Globe Asiatique owner Delfin Lee and several others after an investigation which Binay ordered revealed that Lee had used fake documents and ghost borrowers to secure some P7 billion in loans from Pag-IBIG.

After the filing of a syndicated estafa case against Delfin and Dexter Lee in relation to GA’s alleged fraudulent transactions with the Pag-IBIG Fund in 2011, GA retaliated by filing a civil case against the Fund before the Regional Trial Court of Makati.

Judge Eugene Paras of the Makati RTC Branch 58 originally nullified the unilateral cancellation by Pag-IBIG of the continuing Funding Commitment Agreements (FCAs) and Collection Servicing Agreement (CSA) it entered with GA, saying Pag-IBIG breached its memorandum of agreement and funding commitment agreements with GA when it refused to accept replacement buyers.

The agency, acting on the orders of the Vice President, had cancelled the FCAs and CSA after it uncovered ghost buyers and other irregularities in Globe Asiatique projects.

However, in dismissing the complaint, the appeals court pointed out that Pag-IBIG Fund chief executive officer Atty. Darlene Marie Berberabe and the individual members of the board of directors were not even named as party defendants to the case. (PNA)

SCS/SFM/OVP-PR

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