President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has directed the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development to build one million housing units a year, Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar told the Senate on Wednesday.
During yesterday’s organizational meeting of the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement, Acuzar said he was instructed by the President to build 6 million houses in six years.
The DHSUD chief admitted the number isn’t sufficient due to the huge backlog in housing, but their hands are tied owing to the limited budget allocated for the department under the General Appropriations Act.
The Senate meeting also tackled the low 30-percent collection rate of the National Housing Authority before the pandemic, the collection rate was just pegged at, with Acuzar saying he believes the law that created the NHA should be revisited.
Acuzar said the collection rate decreased due to the NHA being prohibited from evicting those who failed to settle their obligations, and with the non-eviction policy, the tendency of lenders to not pay their dues.
Senator Nancy Binay suggested giving housing units for free since their occupants are not capable of paying.
“They are indeed giving housing grants, especially to victims of calamities,” she remarked.
Committee chairperson Sen. JV Ejercito, however, said a housing beneficiary should still pay despite the small amount involved.
For her part, Sen. Cynthia Villar, whose family owns one of the biggest real-estate firms in the country, raised the possibility of “palakasan” (influence peddling) if a housing unit is given for free.
She warned against the indiscriminate distribution of houses, even to unintended beneficiaries.