Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez on Monday said there were some 1,200 hectares of idle government lands that could be used for mass housing.
Benitez, chairman of the House of Representatives’ committee on housing and urban development, said that instead of developing low-cost housing in places far from the livelihood of the people intended to live there, they might be relocated to near their places of work.
Benitez made the statement following criticisms the creation of the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development would result in the loss of jobs of government workers now employed in various agencies involved in mass housing, like the National Housing Authority, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and others.
“The agencies involved in the mass housing now will not be downgraded, and instead their functions will be enhanced,” he said.
The law clearly states that no employee in any of the government housing agencies will be dismissed,” Benitez, principal author of the measure, said.
Benitez noted that after then President Ferdinand Marcos left office, mass housing was considered mere squatter relocation and no support was given to the relocatees.
When President Corazon Aquino assumed office, the implementation of various housing projects started during the Marcos administration was stopped.
As a result, Quezon City among others was overrun by squatters and with the acquiescence of some Cory Aquino local officials who expected the squatters to vote for them.
However, when elections came the squatters in Quezon City instead voted for Ismael Mathay, Jr. who was identified with then-first lady Imelda Marcos.