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Residents rally against housing authority

Saturday, July 26, 2008
By Gil Alfredo B. Severino


FIFTEEN residents of Purok 5, Punta Magsungay in Barangay Singcang picketed in front of the Bacolod Housing Authority (BHA).

They said their application for a relocation lot in barangay Vista Alegre was not acted upon by BHA despite a court order on the eventual demolition of their houses.

Basilio Araquel, a senior member of the picketing residents, explained they started applying for a relocation site since May.

Despite their completion of the papers and submission of all requirements to the BHA, the housing authority did not do anything, they claimed.

"But BHA did not act at all. A court order to demolish our houses could be implemented anytime now," he said.

"To apply for a relocation site lot, we have to pay P1,000. Estimate for us this amount, plus time wasted on our livelihood, plus transportation fare going back and forth and other contingent costs along the way. We have already spent so much accomplishing the requirements for our application but BHA has no action at all," Araquel said.

He added: "They leave us with no choice but to stage this picket to express anger at BHA head Josephine Segundino. She kept on insisting that we join the community mortgage program (CMP) when none of us can afford the monthly payment of the mortgage."

But Segundino refuted the claims of the Punta Magsungay residents.

She said that based in their records, except for the 15 protesters, some 136 residents already joined the Purok 5 Punta Magsungay Homeowners Association, which is the first step in qualifying for a housing loan under the CMP.

"In lieu of the relocation difficulties and problems, we are sending our workers almost daily to explain house to house the CMP," Segundino explained. "Upon membership to a duly-incorporated homeowners association, the CMP provides that these members are now qualified to avail of loans from the Social Housing Finance Corp. This financing are priced at a very low cost and a very low interest rate of six percent per annum."

"If they qualify, they do not have to be relocated but instead, pay a monthly amortization for 25 years. Then they own the house and the lot after 25 years. Per our records, at Purok 5, the lowest is a 32 square-meter house and lot costing the head resident P103 per month and the biggest house and lot is 168 square meters costing P521 per month. Is this too burdensome or too difficult to understand?" she explained.

Segundino said the 15 picketers chose to be relocated so they have to apply. She added that they have accomplished all their requirements but the BHA has to evaluate their papers and prepare their relocation lot.

"Their papers are now under evaluation and unfortunately, there are more than a thousand ahead of them, also under review. They could have chosen the CMP, we have explained this to them again and again," Segundino said.

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