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Aquino releases P5.5-billion housing fund aimed at pleasing squatter sector

By Fernan J. Angeles
06/04/2012 [ ]
With less than a year before the 2013 mid-term elections, the administration appears keen on making more big-time spendings on high-impact projects aimed at making a good political impression. From last week’s release of some P5.1 billion for the electrification and internal revenue allotment, Malacañang announced the release of P5.5 billion to bankroll housing projects for the informal settlers.
The latest fund release brought to P10.6 billion the total amount that the government had released in two weeks.
Malacañang, through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), released P5.5 billion to the National Housing Authority (NHA) for the implementation of the Resettlement Program of squatter families living in areas classified as danger zones.
“The recent release will allow the NHA to meet the re-housing requirements of families and communities living as informal settlers or currently in high-risk or calamity-stricken areas. “President Aquino understands the urgency of relocating these residents whose safety must be ensured and protected, especially since the rainy season has begun,” Budget Secretary Butch Abad said.
According to NHA, the program will cover the provision of 12,227 house and lot packages, 10,188 housing units and 16,527 lots to beneficiary families nationwide. The release will be charged against the agency’s Corporate Operating Budget as programmed in FY 2012 General Appropriations Act.
Of the total fund, at least P4.16 billion will go to NHA-administered re-housing activities, of which around P2.7 billion will be used to relocate informal settler families living in high-risk areas in Metro Manila to Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan and Pampanga. The fund will also cover families displaced from areas earmarked for government infrastructures.
Under this program, the government will provide housing units to beneficiary families — articularly for off-city relocation — and community facilities such as schools, health centers, multipurpose/livelihood centers, and police outputs in new housing sites. In addition, socio-economic and other community support programs will also be rolled out, with the entire program involving local government units (LGUs), other government agencies, affected communities and non-government organizations.
“If we were to merely relocate these communities without accounting for their basic needs, we would be doing the affected families a great disservice. The NHA will see to it that informal settlers will be resettled in homes they can call their own, with schools and community facilities well within reach,” Abad said.
Around P905.2 million of the fund for NHA-administered projects will go to re-housing families currently living in condemned buildings or structures. An additional P568 million will be used in relocating poor or informal settler families affected by calamities to safe areas, as well as to provide housing assistance to families whose homes were damaged by calamities but who do not need to be transferred to a different location.
Meanwhile, P1.006 billion of the total P5.5-billion fund will be directed to local government units outside Metro Manila for the Regional Resettlement Program. The fund will support the relocation of families in high-risk areas, those affected by infrastructures and calamities, and those subject to court-order eviction.
Furthermore, P82.6 million will be devoted to housing support activities, while P252.4 million will be used in delivering critical community support services for relocated families.

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