It is a great honour and privilege for me to lead for another year the country’s largest umbrella organization of stakeholders from the allied industries of housing, construction, and real estate development – the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations, Inc. or CREBA.
Over the last four decades, CREBA has taken upon itself to regularly propose legislative and administrative approaches to housing production, finance or regulation, or submit well-researched commentaries or critique of government-initiated legislation or policies related to housing.
From time to time, however, CREBA has also seen it fit to propose measures or take a position on emerging concerns or issues that, although not directly related to housing, nevertheless affect the socio-economic or political environment that invariably impacts on housing and real estate.
Among the major issues that have continued to plague the housing sector is the absence of a government unit devoted to provide solutions to the over-arching challenges of providing decent homes for Filipinos. Thus, CREBA has been pushing for the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD) through legislation.
CREBA perceives that since the abolition of the Ministry of Human Settlements in the wake of the Martial Law regime’s downfall, the housing effort has suffered in terms of prioritization at the highest levels of Government. Since shelter is one of the three most basic needs of man, provision of the same should enjoy a priority at least equal to tourism and other government services, and should be similarly addressed by a full-fledged Department rather than just a mere Coordinating Council.
Toward this end, CREBA has been continually working for the creation of a DHUD that will establish a permanent seed fund, balance land use, enhance securitization measures, expand the powers of the HLURB to cover summary ejectment functions and thus, protect the property rights of legitimate landowners, among many other urgently needed reforms.
CREBA believes that the creation of a Housing Department is not only imperative, but long overdue. The Chamber has long been an advocate of the DHUD Bill and has unfailingly submitted its proposals to both Houses of Congress over the years. Our position has remained consistent for the past 2 decades: that the DHUD need not be structured with the usual full complement of bureaus and service divisions.
This is because the administrative and operational structure is already in place – comprised of the existing housing agencies and GOCCs. There is thus no compelling need to disturb this existing infrastructure.
What is of utmost importance is to cloth the policy-making and overseeing body with powers sufficient to ensure (1) that the existing housing agencies, local governments and the private sector operate in a concerted and holistic fashion, and (2) that the housing and urban development effort is accorded the priority it deserves at the highest rungs of government.
Thus, it should suffice to elevate the status of the present Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) into a Department, maintain its present complement of offices and personnel, attach thereto the existing housing agencies and GOCCS, and confer upon this Department adequate administrative and supervisory powers over the KSA’s and their respective governing boards.
Perhaps the most radical, albeit necessary, measure we would now like to introduce, in view of our actual and recent experiences, is the granting of veto powers upon the Housing Secretary over all actions taken by the governing boards of the KSA’s with respect to investments, allocation and disposition of funds, issuance of credit instruments, and such matters as may bear directly or indirectly on policies, programs, rules and regulations adopted by the Department.
The DHUD Bill should, therefore, grant the Housing Secretary full authority and direct control over the KSA’s, and in the process, provide the mechanism for responsibility and accountability for his actions.
With the full support of the Housing Czar, Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay, and the tireless efforts of the Senate and House Committees headed by Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and Cong. Rodolfo G. Valencia, we hope that our resolve to pass the DHUD Bill for the last 20 years will finally translate to reforms that will benefit our people.
Published in the Manila Bulletin May 2012