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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

What are permits for?

The controversy to which areal estate developer has been dragged of late raised this question among major players in the property industry. 

As it is, developing houses and communities for all segments of the property market remains to be among the most highly regulated and heavily taxed industries. 

Right from the project conceptualization stage, developers already have to deal with a long list of government agencies to secure licenses and permits that all take a long time to be issued. From ensuring that titles from the Land Registration Authority are valid, that the type of development being considered falls under the existing land use plans, securing a conversion order or the exemption therefrom from the DAR, environmental clearance from DENR, obtaining registration and licence to sell from HLURB, development permit from the LGU, and the list goes on.

Yet, housing activities have the power as tremendous growth-driver because at any point in a project’s life, the economy benefits directly from investments spent on materials, labour, tax generation and the likes. Put together, all direct, indirect or induced impacts of housing construction, particularly when done in mass, can create multiplier effects transcending at least 70 other industries, including the supply of construction materials, services, financing institutions, and many others.

Cognizant of the enormous pump-priming potential of housing and real estate activities in spurring economic and social development of the country, the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations, Inc. or CREBA has, for more than four decades, been at the forefront of ensuring that every Filipino family will not only have a “roof above their heads” but a “home they can call their own.”

Hence, CREBA has made it a foremost policy and advocacy for its 3,500-strong membership to fully comply with all laws, rules and regulations that govern housing and other types of real estate development while fulfilling its role in assisting the national government in addressing the housing shortfall, estimated at 5.5 million units.

At times, some of these laws may vary for each locality, as all local governments are empowered to promulgate and enact ordinances. For example, while only the HLURB is granted the power to issue locational clearances, several LGUs require developers to obtain the same from their city or municipality, particularly for the construction of condominiums. 

Hence, the implementation of real estate development projects take huge time, effort and investments across various stages from the point of land acquisition as it involves a complex process of securing permits and licences from all levels of government, up to the national agencies down to the barangay level. This is not to mention some special laws, such as height limits for projects near airports and military camps, among others.

The State must ensure that for the private sector to fulfil its role in the economic and social advancement of the people, government must reciprocate by acting as an enabler in creating a business environment that is conducive to growth. It should then ensure that legitimate real estate activities proceed unhampered and that the permits, licenses and authorities granted to qualified developer-applicants by all issuing agencies are honoured and implemented decisively and consistently. 

Such is the case of DMCI’s Torre de Manila condominium which caught national attention after alarmed interest groups said that the project is casting a negative effect upon the Rizal monument that has stood at the Luneta for many years.

DMCI warrants that it has secured all the permits necessary before it commenced construction of the building, among them an approval from the local government of Manila as well as the National Historical Commission which has unique mandate over shrines and landmarks. Now, the project could be stopped, or worst, demolished.

And so the private sector is faced with a dilemma where new rules may be promulgated in response to a situation that has never happened before. 

But we contend that applying new rules retroactively instead of prospectively is counter-productive. Because what then is the private sector’s guarantee that real estate projects granted the seal of approval by the authorized agencies will not get blocked, stopped or questioned at the mere say-so of a few interest groups? In the meantime, well-meaning entrepreneurs can be dragged into a huge controversy to endure undeserved trial by publicity. Yet again, somebody has been judged way before being proven guilty.

Perhaps it would be only fair for all concerned if interest groups would likewise to question the very agencies and authorities who issued the permits and clearances to the projects that satisfied the requirements. 

We look forward to a fair and thorough evaluation of the real facts of the DMCI case. If no violation was made of the laws that existed before it was build, then it is just and reasonable not to make them pay.

CREBA will remain to be at the forefront of such initiatives to secure the continued industry growth and ensure provision of dignified housing for Filipinos. The Chamber commits to be the government’s strong partner in pursuing a truly rational and affordable national housing program with a well-planned and holistic approach.

Published in the Manila Bulletin September 2014

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