Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Wednesday the National Housing Authority does not have to provide housing for the military and police, adding they have salaries and do not belong to the informal sectors.
He made the statement even as housing czar Eduardo del Rosario said a low budget allocation for 2021 could definitely affect the operations of the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development.
He welcomed the Senate’s support to increase the department’s budget to better fulfill its mandate next year.
During the Senate hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, Recto said there was no need for the NHA to build homes for the AFP and PNP personnel.
“They should just apply for housing loans with the Pag-IBIG fund. They should be eligible to borrow from Pag-IBIG and let the private sector build the homes so they can choose where they want to live and the quality of the homes will be better,” Recto said.
In the same hearing, senators cited the need to increase the P3.9-billion housing budget, just .08 percent of the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 or 0.02 percent of the country’s GDP and asked for an additional P12 billion for a public housing assistance program, resettlement assistance and Marawi rehabilitation and recovery fund program.
Human Settlements Director Miles Rivera said for this year, they had a budget of P7.83 billion. For next year, they were asking for 76 billion but the Department of Budget and Management approved only 3.9 billion.
Earlier, Human Settlements Secretary Eduardo del Rosario said the target completion dates for all Marawi projects was December 2021.
He said the Task Force Bangon Marawi was now constructing 3,500 permanent shelters, which was targeted to be completed by December 2021. The NHA has also constructed 3,916 temporary shelters out of 5,266 target units.
Senator Christopher Go said the Marawi projects, the construction of road networks, the Grand Padian Market, the Integrated School, the Fire Station, Peace Memorial, and other major infrastructure projects should be some of the focus of the DHSUD in its rehabilitation program.
“I see no reason why Secretary Eduardo del Rosario of the DHSUD and General Manager Jun Escalada will not be able to accomplish these daunting tasks. They have the support of the President. I challenge Secretary Del Rosario to make good on his commitments and ensure that he will be on top of all of these as the Secretary of the DHSUD,” Go said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said there was a need for bipartisan support to raise the proposed budget of the DHSUD.
He said the DHSUD’s P3.9-billion budget was in contrast to the P9.5-billion combined intelligence and confidential funds of the government under the 2021 budget.
Senator Francis Tolentino also supported the call for an additional DHSUD budget and its attached agencies. He suggested combining the housing budgets from other departments like Social Welfare and the Interior department and transfer them to the DHSUD.
“How can we implement a massive housing program if we don’t have a housing budget? As it stands, a lot of budgetary allocations for housing are spread out in different departments. It is really logical if we aggregate all of this and put it in one department,” Tolentino said.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, who presided over the housing budget hearing, said “even in the face of adversity and the very low budget given to the sector, I believe that your agencies can still make housing and urban development a key driver of growth and the economic renewal.”
The DHSUD earlier reported that it needed at least P30 billion a year over 20 years to build 6.7-million houses and address the housing backlog, roughly 3 million of which are in the socialized and subsidized housing category.