Senator: More decent, cheap houses for poor families

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has proposed a measure which seeks to create local housing boards and adopt the People's Planning approach, to ensure decent and affordable housing for the underprivileged families and protect them from unjust evictions and demolitions.

De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 2092 amending certain provisions of Republic Act No. 7279, also known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (UDHA), and adopt the people's planning approach as a primary mode of delivering shelter and related services for the urban poor.

"The problem of homelessness is widespread," she said, mindful of the country's current housing backlog which stands at about two million.

"[People's Planning] approach can help make the government housing program more responsive to the needs of poor families as it emphasizes community-initiated development plans that are being formulated by people's organizations themselves," she added.

Under her measure, the local housing boards (LHBs) shall be established in all cities and first-class and second-class municipalities to ensure proper formulation, development, implementation, and monitoring of important local policies, including the preparation and approval of local shelter plans.

Based on the figures from the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, there are about 1,502,336 informal settler families (ISFs) all over the country and 40 percent of them are in Metro Manila.

According to the Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), there are several loopholes in UDHA that result in inadequate protection for the rights of the ISFs.
De Lima said her measure supports the comprehensive and continuing urban development and housing program whose success largely depends on the direct and meaningful participation of all stakeholders--including LGUs and affected communities--in the planning, implementation and monitoring processes.

"It is hoped that the adoption of people's planning approach and the institutionalization of local housing boards can help make the housing and urban development program of the government truly transparent, participatory and inclusive," she said.

To ensure that the basic right to adequate housing, such as availability, affordability, accessibility, among others, are protected and fulfilled, the Senator from Bicol said the CHR may be invited as an observer in the local housing board.

Under the measure, LHBs are mandated to prepare and approve local shelter plan which shall form part of the city/municipality development plan and suggest recommendations for socialized housing sites and acquisition of lands for socialized housing and resettlement.

"The LHBs will also have the power to grant or deny certificates of compliance on the availability and accessibility of basic services in any housing project or relocation site," she said.

The Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development pointed out that unjustified failure or refusal of a mayor to constitute the LHB can subject him and other officials or employees responsible to disciplinary action.

Despite being detained based on trumped-up drug charges, De Lima has continued to file meaningful legislative measures for the benefit of the Filipino people, including those from the vulnerable sectors of society.

SOURCE: Senate (2018). De Lima seeks creation of local boards for decent housing for poor. Senate of the Philippines, 17th Congress. Press Release. November 17, 2018.