Ask any seasoned real estate developer how long it takes before commencing a housing project in the Philippines and expect to hear pre-construction stage running at a minimum of 3 to 5 years.
The Housing and Urban n Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) attests that every project requires about 100 documents and 68 permits from at least 20 government offices requiring no less than 200 signatures to roll-out.
Aside from the very backlog that has hit record levels of 6.57 million housing units last year, this is the enormity of the challenge that confronts the provision of homes to Filipino families.
Congress recently referred to CREBA 3 proposed bills pending before the Committee on Housing and Urban Development at the Lower House.
First is House Bill No. 9522 filed by Cong. Rosenda Ann Ocampo seeking to require subdivision and condominium developers to provide rainwater wells and collectors in their projects to help mitigate flooding.
CREBA opposed the bill for being unnecessary inasmuch as ensuring the safety of our communities is clearly vested upon government and its agencies. To prevent flooding, government only needs to implement existing environmental laws strictly, including the prohibition of illegal settlements in waterways and practice sustainable solid waste management. Hence, it would seem that such a palliative measure is a mere attempt to cover up for government’s failures to erform its own mandates.
Next is Cong. Arthur Yap’s House Bill No. 2710 which seeks to incentivize first-time home ownership by providing tax and non-tax incentives for housing purchases. CREBA agrees that we need measures to make it easier for the homeless Filipinos to achieve their life-long dream of having a home they can call their own.
However, the discount system imposed upon developers will increase housing development and construction costs which will eventually impact the selling prices of the housing units intended for socialized and economic housing beneficiaries.
Third is House Bill No. 43381 filed by Cong. Winston Castelo which seeks to require balanced housing compliance under R.A. 7279 to be built on the same city or municipality as the main project, or, if not feasible, in an area determined by the local government units. This clearly defeats the very purpose for which R.A. 110884, or the amended Balanced Housing Law of 2016, was enacted.
The amended UDHA effectively removed major stumbling blocks to socialized housing delivery, a role that has been extended to developers by government under a principle of “public-private cooperation.”
Since the deep-seated problem of homelessness is spread out all over the country, developers’ housing projects will naturally gravitate to areas where demand for housing is strong. To remove from the developers the power to make that an important business decision will be an utter disregard of the very principles agreed upon by shelter agencies, industry stakeholders, experts, beneficiaries and Congress itself during years of deliberations leading to the passage of R.A. 10884.
Experience tells us it is dangerous to grant complete control upon the LGUs as to the location of the compliance project when stakeholders can already be properly guided by the LGU’s comprehensive land use plans.
CREBA subscribes to the noble intentions of the proposed measures but not to the point of imposing additional burdens to an already heavily taxed and highly regulated housing industry.
To best serve our shared aspirations of making homes more affordable for the millions of homeless Filipinos in a long-term and concerted fashion, CREBA urges Congress to pass House Bill No. 4886 filed by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, with its counterpart Senate Bill No. 2106 filed by Senator
J.V. Ejercito that will mandate the pooling of P270 billion housing funds a year under a Comprehensive Home Financing Program (CHFP).
This will make long-term housing loans cheaper and available to low-income earners nationwide: a necessary and urgent step towards providing our citizenry a golden opportunity to become home owners and finally address the housing woes that has plagued the country for generations.
This is the quality of housing laws that we need to combat the ills of homeless. Our children and those who will come after them deserve no less.
Published in the Manila Bulletin January 2019