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Housing, OFW sectors set for big growth, vows Binay

07/04/2011 [ ]

Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday said he was able to introduce much-needed and more transparent reforms in the national housing program and had provided better protection for overseas Filipino workers a year after he was elected into office.

In his own report to the nation released yesterday, Binay acknowledged that the battle against corruption and all other unlawful activities that prevent greater public access to affordable

homes is far from over, but promised to put a more efficient system in place under his term.

“These reforms will enable the shelter agencies to work more efficiently and systematically to address the challenges in the housing sector,” he added.

Binay said he is also intent on keeping government agencies on track in the drive against human trafficking and illegal recruitment even after the Philippines was taken off a crucial blacklist this year by the US government, which cited Manila’s success in convicting offenders.

Corruption and bureaucracy in the government’s housing programs have impeded the poor’s access to quality and affordable homes while the country saw a continuing exodus of Filipino workers to other countries due to lack of employment opportunities at home, exposing them to abuse and exploitation.

Independent polling institutions recently revealed that Binay has consistently topped the list of government officials with a high trust and popularity rating, overtaking President Aquino.

As chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Binay said he has already instituted several reforms to redirect and fine-tune the strategies of all housing agencies amid his “zero tolerance” policy.

Upon his instructions, syndicated estafa charges were filed against home-builder Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. after an investigation uncovered irregularities in its P6.6-billion loan from the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) and the double sale of housing units.

Property developers and Pag-IBIG members welcomed the move, saying it restores confidence in government, and sent out an important signal that the Vice President is not disposed to giving special treatment to anyone, Binay said.

Under Binay’s leadership, the HUDCC Council was also convened for the first time in several years, and now holds regular quarterly meetings to discuss policies and enhance coordination not only among government agencies, but also with Congress and the private sector.

This has resulted in a unified position on housing policies and directions for the next six years.

From July 2010 to May 2011, he said decent housing were provided to 85,187 families.

“These efforts will be geared towards providing homes for all sectors, including government employees and indigenous communities,” he said.

As the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Concerns, Binay said he created a multi-agency response to address problems confronted by Filipinos aboard.

When he visited Saudi Arabia in March 2011, he said he was able to obtain the consent of Saudi authorities to facilitate the repatriation of 4,500 overstaying Filipinos at the resource centers in Riyadh and Jeddah.

An earlier visit to Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, also resulted in the repatriation of stranded Filipinos, and pledges of investments and preferential hiring of Philippine nationals, he said.

Binay was also able to secure a stay of execution for the three convicted drug mules in China after meeting with officials in Beijing. However, a month after, the three were executed by lethal injection.

Michaela P. del Callar

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