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From the Chairman

Charlie A.V. Gorayeb

Charlie A.V. Gorayeb

Chairman of the Board, CREBA Chairman, CREBA Advocacy & Legislative Affairs Committee Honorary Consul General, Republic of Djibouti

Sellers & Buyers – A Balancing of Interests

Unlike courts which render judgment based on their interpretation of law, those who make the laws, policies or rules are often confronted with a familiar conundrum – how to balance divergent interests to achieve the greater good, without alienating anyone.

Given CREBA’s kaleidoscopic membership and its vision for homeless millions, its leaders can only empathize with the rule makers – in particular, the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).

On one hand, as implementer of PD 957, DHSUD has the legal mandate to protect the interest of homebuyers; on the other, as implementer of the housing and urban development program, it is required by no less than the Constitution to cooperate with the private shelter sector.

A recent example of DHSUD’s quandary is what to do with the requirement for developers to have their chosen mode of compliance with the balanced housing requirement annotated on the titles of the project. The annotation requirement includes actual lot numbers, block numbers and unit numbers of the units allocated for sale as socialized housing. Failure to comply with the requirement within six months will result in automatic suspension of the License to Sell, and issuance of a Cease and Desist Order against the developer.

Imposed on December 2017 under HLURB Board Resolution No. 965, implementation was suspended on November 2019 in response to clamor by our industry groups, and was scheduled for review in light of the provisions of the “Ease of Doing Business” Act of 2018. With the onset of the COVID pandemic, the suspension was extended to December 2020.

What remains unclear to us, however, is why such a requirement was imposed in the first place. There is little to suggest that its absence would impair homebuyer protection which, under existing laws and regulations, is ample enough.

Yet, the prejudice that this requirement posed to developers should have been readily apparent – the considerable additional documentation time, considerable time wasted in queues at the Registry of Deeds, considerable delays in the processing of certificates of registration and license to sell, considerable concomitant expenses and loss of business opportunity. These are not empty claims, but rather, easily quantifiable.

It should be clear, therefore, that the imposition failed to meet the “balancing of interests” test.

Last October, we were gratified to receive a copy of the draft Department Order intending to dispense with the annotation requirement.

Under said draft, however, the abrogation came with new impositions which, to our mind, were less than well-conceived. Consequently, we took the liberty of reformulating the draft DO and submitting the same to DHSUD.

Apparently to enable further review in light of our recommended changes, DHSUD issued DO 2021-011 extending the suspension of the annotation requirement to December 2022.

To us, this is yet another manifestation of DHSUD Secretary Eduardo del Rosario’s remarkable open-mindedness and unquestionable determination to pursue his Department’s Constitutional and legal mandates with fairness – for which this Chamber is most grateful.

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