Greater access to land and housing for underprivileged pushed

A bill giving underprivileged Filipinos easy access to land and
housing has been filed in the House of Representatives. It aims to
achieve this by strengthening the Housing and Land Use Regulatory
Board (HLURB).

House Bill 5416, principally authored by Rep. Rodolfo Valencia (1st
District, Oriental Mindoro), underlines the goal of fostering growth
and renewal of urban and rural communities in an integrative and
sustainable manner that promotes optimum land use, adequate shelter,
and environmental protection, disaster risk reduction, and climate
change adaptation.

“One important thing is the promotion of access to land and housing by
the underprivileged and homeless citizens,” Valencia said.

The bill also seeks the repeal of Executive Order 641 authorizing the
establishment and administration of provident funds in the government,
which was issued by the Arroyo administration on July 25, 2007.

Valencia said the bill seeks to strengthen the HLURB and allow the
board to meet the current demands in the regulation of the real state
trade and business, and the regulation and supervision of homeowners’
associations.

“There is an urgent need to optimize the use of land as a national
resource for public welfare rather than just a commodity of trade.
This is aside from the extension of technical assistance on land use
planning to local government units, and on matters of adjudication,”
Valencia said.

Noting the widespread adverse effects of climate change and other
natural and man-made disasters being felt with increasing frequency in
all parts of the country, Valencia lamented the considerable damage to
life, health, and property of Filipinos, threatening the stability and
security of communities.

Valencia also cited the undeniable urgency for local governments to
make their respective Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs) adapt to
climate change.

“Sadly, not all LGUs have completed their respective CLUPs, a
requirement mandated to be prepared under the Local Government Code of
1991.  Those that have complied need to review the same in order to
make them disaster risk-ready and adaptable to climate change,”
Valencia said.

“In order to expedite the compliance by the LGUs with the preparation
or review and updating of respective CLUPs, they will be allowed to
make use of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund,
the former Calamity Fund appropriated under the annual GAA, to fund
such preparation or review and updating of their CLUP as a disaster
risk reduction or mitigation, prevention and preparedness activity,”
Valencia said.

Valencia said the bill seeks to make the HLURB more effective in
promoting, among others, equitable utilization of residential lands in
urban and urbanized areas with particular attention to the needs and
requirements of the underprivileged and homeless citizens and not
merely on the basis of market forces, and optimize the use and
productivity of land and urban resources.

“The HLURB could focus on the development of urban areas conducive to
commercial and industrial activities which can generate more economic
opportunities for the people, and reduce urban dysfunctions,
particularly those that adversely affect public health, safety and
security,” Valencia said.

Under the bill, the Board of Directors will have 15 members and
representatives from the private sector and the homeowners
associations.

The bill allows the Board to appoint housing and land use arbiters and
its own sheriffs and enforcement officers and transfer from the Board
to the LGUs the function to take-over the development and completion
of a subdivision or condominium project which a developer failed to
develop or complete at the expense of said developer.

The bill is co-authored by Reps. Walden Bello (Party-list, Akbayan),
Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Party-list, Bagong Henerasyon), Edwin Olivarez
(1st District, Parañaque City) and Lani Mercado-Revilla (2nd District,
Cavite).

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