"Thanks to Speaker Arroyo."
Who would think that in a prime central location along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, one can buy a lot at P700 per square meter?
There is one such location, the National Government Center in Barangay. Holy Spirit in Quezon City where thousands of urban poor families were able to purchase the land they have been occupying for only P700/sqm.
This all thanks to the former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo whose law when she was president in 2003 enabled almost 20,000 urban poor families to acquire the land they have been occupying for a small fraction of the prevailing market rate of P50,000 per square meter.
Janet Dungo, a long-time resident of NGC, said it was only during the time of then President Arroyo that they were able to attain housing security because of RA 9207 (National Government Center Housing and Land Utilization Act of 2003). Under law, more than 50,000 urban poor families in the 422-hectare NGC were given the chance to acquire the land they have been occupying.
In the West side of the NGC which is composed of 184 hectares, Dungo was one of the more than 10,000 housing beneficiaries that were awarded their titles after they paid P700 per square meter for their lot. More than 8,000 have not received their titles because of court cases due to land-grabbing and failure to re-block.
Dungo, who is one of the housing beneficiaries, said they could not contain their happiness when then President Arroyo not only awarded them their lots but enabled them to acquire them at only a fraction of the cost.
“We did not have security before because we were just squatters. We have sought the help of many officials but it was only GMA who listened to us and did something to enable us to buy the land we were living on – and at very low prices,” she said in Tagalog.
Today, aside from the individual land titles, the government is also building eight medium-rise buildings in the west side of NGC to accommodate more beneficiaries. The area will create a new township complete with commercial establishments, recreational center and educational and medical facilities.
Rannie Ludovico, a QC councilor and who was barangay captain of NGC when RA 9207 was passed in 2003, said the residents of NGC are forever grateful to Speaker Arroyo because of the all the help she has done for the community.
Ludovico added, it would appear that Arroyo’s concern for the urban residents did not stop with the enactment of RA 9207 and lowering the purchase price. She also made sure that the remaining qualified beneficiaries got their titles.
Arroyo had for the first time convened an Oversight Committee on NGC to make sure that RA 9207 is properly implemented. During the first Oversight hearing at the House of Representatives, Arroyo vowed to put P100 million into the Department of Public Works and Highways budget to enable the department to purchase more land for the beneficiaries. Under the law, the DPWH is the one in charge of the land acquisition in the NGC.
This, after she was told by the DPWH that no funding was allocated for the 2019 budget for the acquisition of titles and reblocking of individual lots for the NGC.
Arroyo, for her part, said she would ask the House members of the bicameral panel to put at least P100 million to NGC to enable them to facilitate and receive their titles.
The Speaker went around the country to visit the urban poor housing beneficiaries during her administration. She signed more than 100 presidential proclamations, executive orders and laws that enabled thousands of urban poor families to acquire the land they have long occupied.
The creation of a new oversight committee is consistent with Speaker Arroyo’s earlier pronouncement that the Lower House will hold its oversight functions in the remaining months of her speakership because they have already passed all the priority bills of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“This is very consistent with what I said when we left for the Christmas Holidays that we already passed many good laws including my own law in 2003 that’s why they are now owners of their property. But what is important now is to make sure that they are well implemented. So this is part of what I have been saying that that’s the task I think the House of Representatives should be doing for the next six months,” she earlier said.”‹