A committee in the House of Representatives on Saturday called for the fast-tracking of the process for the turnover of 71 hectares of lamd allotted for the squatters relocated from the Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City.
This cropped up during the hearing conducted by the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, chaired by Rep. Alfredo Benitez of Negros Occidental, on House Bill 8255, authored by former President and Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Arroyo’s bill proposes to award 71 hectares of the Manggahan Floodway Socialized Housing Project site in Taytay, Rizal to qualified beneficiaries.
Arroyo said that through her bill, the land titles which is being awaited for by the housing beneficiaries for about 25 years now shall already be available in 2020.
The bill is a result of Proclamation 458, issued by then President Fidel V. Ramos in 1994, declaring certain parcels of land along the floodway for disposition in accordance with Republic Act No. 7279 or the “Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.”
“Unfortunately for the residents, charitable and educational institutions actually occupying said lands, the lots have not yet been awarded to them by the National Housing Authority (NHA). Despite a series of dialogues, consultations, and the creation of a technical working group to identify issues and concerns regarding the Manggahan Floodway Socialized Project Site, no actual and specific action has been taken to fully provide security of housing to the urban poor,” Arroyo said in her explanatory note of HB 8255.
Arroyo added that the Urban Poor Affairs Office of the local government of Taytay previously estimated the population in the Manggahan Floodway within the jurisdiction of Taytay to be around 42,033 as of 2014, from 6,365 households in 2005.
“It is a thriving community which, if properly supported by the government, could be utilized as a model community for the urban poor for its self-sustaining development, community participation, maintenance of peace and order, and economic independence,” said Arroyo.
Consequently, plans and programs that aim to develop and implement procedures on the issues of sanitation, environmental protection, structural stability, as well as economic viability have not been fully achieved to this day, according to her.
In response to the committee’s call to expedite processing of the land titles, NHA Division Manager engineer Ma. Therese Siat, informed the panel that the NHA shall conduct a board meeting to discuss and approve their corporate funds, including the P38-million budget needed for conducting the survey in the area, which she explained is the initial step to fully execute the legislative measure.
Thereafter, the NHA shall publish advertisements to reach out to potential bidders. Upon completion, the agency shall begin the survey within the area to determine its current state, she said.
Siat said that while the aforementioned budget is expected to be available by June 2019, the survey up to the actual land titling shall be completely accomplished 360 days thereafter.
Siat also raised that another crucial component for the land titling is the revision of the area’s special patent. The Land Management Bureau (LMB) shall first carve out the property included in the document that overlaps with a titled property, which was about 1,000 square meters only, she said.
While the agencies reassured the panel that they will fast-track the processing of the documents, Rep. Bayani Fernando (1st District, Marikina City) asked the NHA and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to initially verify the actual owner of the overlapping property.
Bayani raised the matter after Taytay Mayor Joric Gacula said that even though there are areas in the property that are privately-owned, most of it is already possessed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Meanwhile, Atty. John Daryl Josol of the Registry of Deeds vowed to accomplish all 6,000 land titles in two months provided that the NHA provides them with an electronic technical description needed for the socialized housing project.
Siat expressed concern on the possible effects of the election ban on their operations, but Rep. Florida Robes (Lone District, San Jose Del Monte City) suggested to the NHA to “Better ask your legal (unit) to ask for an exemption from the COMELEC para itong mga proyektong ito, ‘wag nang i-cover ng ban.”
Fernando told concerned agencies that the socialized housing project has already been declared through a Presidential Proclamation, which no other form of document may supersede.