March 15, 2017
SPONSORSHIP SPEECH - On-Site, In-City, or Near-City Relocation Bill (Senate Bill No. 1393)
Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, ladies and gentlemen:
As the Chairman of the Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement, I stand this afternoon to sponsor Senate Bill No. 1393 under Committee Report No. 55 entitled, "AN ACT ESTABLISHING ON-SITE, IN-CITY, OR NEAR-CITY STRATEGY FOR INFORMAL SETTLER FAMILIES IN CONSIDERATION WITH A PEOPLE'S PLAN AND MANDATING LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS TO PROVIDE OTHER BASIC SERVICES AND LIVELIHOOD COMPONENTS IN RESETTLEMENT SITES, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7279, AS AMENDED, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE "URBAN DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING ACT OF 1992"
This is in substitution of Senate Bill Nos. 331, 936, and 1216 authored by Senators Risa Hontiveros, Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, Sonny Angara, and yours truly.
The 1987 Constitution mandates the State to undertake a continuing program for the provision of affordable, decent housing and basic services to our underprivileged and homeless citizens. This however has been one of the main challenges that our government faces every year with every change in administration.
Based on the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) report, the total housing need of the country is at 5.55 million units. This comprises the accumulated need of 1.22 million, which include households in unacceptable housing and doubled-up households in acceptable housing, and future/recurrent need of 4.1 million.
As of October 2016, the total estimated housing need from 2016 to year 2022 will rise to 6.79 million units based on the Effective Housing Needs using Housing Accomplishments Projections reported by HUDCC. Considering the current rate of housing production, we will never be able to reduce the housing need. As such, there is an urgency to formulate new approaches to address the housing backlog.
The Philippine resettlement program has always been geared toward off-site resettlement. Empirical studies conducted by the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) in 18 resettlement sites from the year 2014 to the present, however, showed that off-site resettlement produced more problems. This includes substandard and lack of basic utilities and social services such as water, power, and schools; job loss or decrease in income and lack of livelihood opportunities; and substandard housing infrastructure, among others. Moreover, the majority of the resettlement sites were prone to landslide, soil erosion, and flooding. To borrow the words of the families living in off-site resettlements, they were relocated from "danger zone to death zone." Resettlers claim that after 10 to 20 years of living in off-site resettlements, poverty continues and their situation even grew worse.
It is high time that we consider shifting resettlement of our informal settler families off-site to on-site, if feasible, and within or near the place where the Informal Settler Families or ISFs are living. From the report of the PCUP, in-city resettlement results to "marginal economic and social shocks", minimal job displacement and better or faster access to water, power and other basic utilities.
This proposed legislation aims to institutionalize the On-site, In-city or Near-city Resettlement Program, amending Sections 3, 21, 23, 26, and 29 of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.
An on-site, in-city or near-city resettlement program promotes the right of the people to access housing within the city as a preferred option and institutionalizes the peoples' planning process as a critical element in the implementation of housing projects.
This bill espouses the resettlement of ISFs within the jurisdiction of the local government unit where the affected ISFs are living or within the local government unit adjacent to the one having jurisdiction over the present settlements of the ISFs. Off-city resettlement shall be considered as the last resort, where on-site, in-city and near-city is not feasible. This legislation reinforces the concept of peoples' plan approach whereby the beneficiaries themselves participate in the planning and implementation of government housing programs, of which they are the beneficiaries, with the technical assistance of concerned government agencies.
The proposed legislation strengthens the obligation, accountability and participation of local government units in their role of providing socialized housing for the poor. Furthermore, this sanctions the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement with the concerned local government units and the national government agencies in the provision of vital basic services and facilities in the resettlement areas such as health, education, communications, security, recreation, relief and welfare. The MOA will specify the duties and responsibilities of the local government units, concerned government agencies, and involved private sector. Most importantly, it will include a timetable for the completion of the basic services and facilities. This proposed amendment will address the issue on the delay of water, electricity and other utilities in resettlement areas.
In order to oversee, monitor and evaluate its implementation, a Congressional Oversight Committee is hereby proposed to be created.
There had been reservations in institutionalizing the on-site, in-city and near city settlement. One of their grounds is the lack of available land in Metro Manila.
To check the availability of lands in NCR for the implementation of in-city and near city resettlement, we requested the Land Registration Authority for the assistance in securing data and information on titled properties through their Land Registration Systems, Inc. (LARES) during last year's National Housing and Urban Development Summit spearheaded by both Houses of Congress. The report covers identification of all titled properties in the National Capital Region that fall within the demarcated areas provided by the Summit Secretariat and those that is within the National Capital Region, registered in the name of the local or national government agency, and has an area that is greater than one thousand (1000) square meters. It was reported that there are around 3,419 hectares of available government lands that are potential sites for in-city housing in Metro Manila alone. If we incorporate other lands such as unregistered or abandoned and idle lands, we would have sufficient lands to implement the on-site, in-city and near city resettlement.
Two of the current best practices of in-city housing are St. Josephville in San Juan City and Disiplina Village in Valenzuela City. Both housing projects have proven that with political will and a solid partnership between the National Housing Agencies, the Local Government Units, and Informal Settler Families as future Homeowners, On-Site, In-City Housing is possible.
This proposed legislation will give light to the spirit of the Urban Development and Housing Act, providing for a comprehensive and continuing urban development and housing program and uplifting the condition of the poor and homeless citizens by making available decent housing at affordable cost with basic services and employment opportunities.
On-site and in-city is possible! Let this bill be our step toward ending homelessness, providing affordable, resilient and decent socialized and low-cost housing to the poor and marginalized in our efforts to create liveable and safe urban areas and smart cities.
Mr. President and dear colleagues, in light of the foregoing, I appeal to this august body for the immediate passage of this bill.
Maraming salamat po!
Thursday, March 30
Wednesday, March 29