During the term of President Marcos Sr., the government assumed the dominant role in direct housing production for the under-served sectors. We recall some of his administration’s efforts in this regard:
- Creation of the National Housing Authority (NHA) under Presidential Decree (PD) 757 in 1975;
- Promulgating the first urban land reform law – PD 1517 in 1978;
- Declaring the entire Metro Manila as urban land reform zone under Proclamation 1893 of 1979;
- Various other Proclamations and Letters of Instruction (LOI) appropriating and setting aside large tracts of land as Areas for Priority Development (APD), Zonal Improvement Program sites, Slum Improvement and Resettlement (SIR) sites, and new town sites such as the Lungsod Silangan; and
- Direct government housing production programs such as Bagong Lipunan Sites and Services (BLISS);
In contrast, from 1986 up to now, the government’s policy has been to rely heavily on the private sector for housing production, with the government limiting its involvement to slum “improvement” and resettlement of informal settlers.
The embodiment of this policy is none other than the Cory Aquino administration’s flagship housing legislation – RA 7279 (UDHA) – whereby a social housing quota, commonly known as balanced housing, was imposed upon developers.
In its 2018 Impact Assessment of the National Shelter Program, the NEDA says:
“The over-all policy on housing provision throughout the years after 1986 is to diminish the role of the national government and to enlarge the participation of the market, civil society, local governments and local communities. As a result of this long-running policy, the backlog in housing, particularly for the lower and middle income households, remains enormous.
Given such indictment by no less than the government’s economic policy-making body, perhaps a paradigm shift is now imperative. As the NEDA itself advocates:
“The diminishing role of the government in direct housing provision at this time is unacceptable when there is still a big number of households in need of decent and affordable housing but who cannot as yet effectively participate in the market.”
We are saddened to note that despite this:
- The NHA’s budget – already insignificant in proportion to the problem – has been further reduced to only P2 Billion for 2023. (Oddly enough, the NHA has been frittering its funds on housing production for this or that preferred sector that may not be “underprivileged” at all.)
- None of the Bills currently pending in the Senate and Lower House provide for budgetary allocation for direct housing production by the government, or even for land acquisition.
- The Onsite/In-City Resettlement Bills, while highly desirable in the prescribed strategy, does not provide for a housing component; which means that while informal settlers will be entitled to tenure on the land they occupy, construction of “decent” or “adequate” housing will be their own problem.
It would seem, thus, that the government is determined to perpetuate its limited role in housing the under-served sectors.
The private shelter sector has been doing its part under the balanced housing requirement despite extreme difficulties, but the problem has simply grown too enormous.
Clearly, the government needs to re-think, re-plan and re-commit.