By Ben Rosario
The House of Representatives has ratified the bicameral committee report on the creation of a Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD), a regular government department that will rationalize and coordinate the functions and powers of various housing agencies of the state.
Strongly endorsed for ratification by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez, the report of the bicameral panel consolidated the two versions of the DHUD measure.
Benitez and Sen. JV Ejercito co-chaired the bicameral panel, being chairmen of the Committee on Housing and Urban Development of their respective chambers.
Benitez said the proposed DHUD will not only help address the huge housing backlog in the country but will also “focus on building communities and habitats in both rural and urban areas.”
The bill will merge the functions of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).
After nearly 3 decades
He noted that the approval of the measure in Congress came after nearly three decades of numerous attempts to establish the department. The first bill was filed in 1989.
“The consolidated version of the bill reflects the best and most acceptable legislative proposal as it contained recommendations made by various housing stakeholders during the year-long 2015 National Housing Summit,” explained Benitez.
The House version also contains five bills filed by former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Reps. Mikee Romero (1PACMAN Partylist); Winston Castelo (PDP-Laban, Quezon City); RozzanoRufino B. Biazon (PDP-Laban, Muntinlupa City) and Christopher Belmonte (LP, Quezon City).
Benitez said the final DHUD proposal defines the functions of the proposed department that would include the formulation, development and coordination of housing and urban development policies, finance and production and public housing.
“The DHUD is mandated to implement a rational, well-balanced, orderly and efficient redevelopment of the urban communities and the development of new settlements in rural and non-farm areas. It must assure families of decent and affordable housing, job and livelihood opportunities, efficient transit educational opportunities and clean environment in the communities that will be created,” said Benitez.
On the other hand, Romero stressed that other vital functions of the DHUD are the development and maintenance of a shelter and urban development management program and the implementation of programs on housingand real estate development regulations in the country.
Romero underscored the necessity of creating a DHUD to address the “inherent institutional weaknesses of the various housing and land use agencies.
He pointed out the creation of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council was supposed to solve the problem, “it’s limited resources and authority” serves as constraints in achieving success.
Decent and affordable houses
“The ultimate goal is to provide decent and affordable houses to every Filipino family at the soonest possible time and at the least cumbersome manner,” stated Arroyo in her explanatory notes of her proposal.
Secretary, 3 Usecs, 3 Assecs
According to Benitez, the DHUD will be headed by a secretary who will be appointed by the President as member of the Cabinet.
Three undersecretaries and three assistant secretaries will also be appointed upon the recommendation of the secretary.
Gov’t corporations attached to DHUD
Attached to the DHUD are the following existing government corporations: National Housing Authority; Home Guarantee Corporation, National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation, Home Development Mutual Fund and Social Housing Finance Corporation.
The HLURB is reconstituted as the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission which will absorb the adjudicatory authority of the former.
On the other hand, the HUDCC is abolished, with its powers, functions and fund transferred to the new department.