Ledac measure for DHUD creation endorsed for House plenary approval

By Jovee Marie de la Cruz - January 18, 2018

A Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) priority measure for the creation of the proposed Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHUD) is now inching its way to become a law with the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development’s endorsement for plenary approval.

Committee Chairman and Rep. Alfredo Benitez of the Third District of Negros Occidental said House Bill (HB) 6775, would address the worsening housing problem in the country.

The Lower House has started on Wednesday night the plenary debates for HB 6775 that consolidated five legislative proposals for the creation of the DHUD.

“What we have on the floor is the best version of the bill on the department’s creation since it was filed in 1989, [or] almost three decades ago,” Benitez said, adding the lower chamber is eyeing to pass the measure before its break in March.

Under HB 6775, the agency will not only provide for housing, but will also “focus on building communities and habitats in both rural and urban areas.”

“It will not only deal with the physical element of housing, but, likewise, provide the necessary link to community services and components, such as education, health, culture, welfare, recreation, food and nutrition,” he added.

Moreover, Benitez said, the new housing department will be created through the consolidation of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

According to the legislator, the department shall act as the primary national government entity responsible in the management of housing, human settlement and urban development.

Benitez added the agency shall be the sole and main planning and policy-making, regulatory, program coordination, and performance monitoring entity for all housing, human settlement and urban development concerns, primarily focusing on the access to and the affordability of basic human needs.

The lawmaker said the new department shall develop and adopt a national strategy to immediately address the provision of adequate and affordable housing to all Filipinos, and shall ensure alignment of all the policies, programs and projects of all its attached agencies to facilitate the achievement of this objective.

Like other government agencies, the bill said the agency shall be composed of the Office of the Secretary, undersecretaries and assistant secretaries.

The measure also said that the functions of the HLURB shall be transferred to the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission (HSAC) that will be created under this act.

The National Housing Authority, Home Guaranty Corp., National Home Mortgage Finance Corp., Home Development Mutual Fund,  Social Housing Finance Corp., and Human Settlements Adjudication Commission (HSAC) are also to be attached to the housing department for policy and program coordination, monitoring and evaluation. These agencies shall also continue to function according to existing laws and their respective charters.

Earlier, Benitez said the housing needs of Filipinos could balloon to 6.8 million before President Duterte’s term ends in 2022.

He added there will be an estimated 774,441 housing needs in 2018; 788,773 in 2019; 803,405 in 2020; 818,363 in 2021 and 833,619 in 2022.

Benitez said at least 1 million units should be constructed every year to address these backlogs.

According to Benitez, the bill has been part of  Congress’s legislative dockets since the 8th Congress up to the 17th Congress and authored by nearly 200 solons.

He added the current Republic Act 7279, or the Urban Development Housing Act, has apparently overlooked the enormous demands in the housing sector.

“Neither did Executive Order  9, which created a coordinating body for shelter agencies of the government,  addressed the housing backlog that stood at 3 million in 1992,” he said.

“It must be admitted, with much regret, that the government has failed to solve the shelter problem. Proof of this, is the fact that we still grapple with the same problem today, as some 6 million housing needs stare us in the face,” Benitez added.