Thursday, October 22, 2009

House urges Senate to fast track P3-Billion Aid and Resettlement Program

MANILA, Philippines - Speaker Prospero Nograles and House Committee on Housing and Urban Development Chairman Rodolfo Valencia appealed to the Senate for the early passage of a House-approved three billion pesos, resettlement and rehabilitation fund for families along waterways and other danger zones in Metro Manila.

"This is a very timely measure which originally intends to assist families to be affected by demolitions and clearing operations in Metro Manila. The recent typhoons made this program imperative," Nograles said.

Nograles noted that the bill was sponsored in plenary until its final approval by the House way back in January 2009 in view of the program to clear metro waterways, sidewalks and other danger areas.

"Nature's wrath that resulted to hundreds of lives lost and billions in damages to property, infrastructure and agriculture only underlines the necessity to use all available resources to clean up our environment and assist our people improve their lives," he said.

Housing Chairman Valencia said that HB 5623, which was jointly sponsored in plenary by the Committee on Appropriations chaired by Representative Junie Cua, had been transmitted to the Senate sometime in late January of early February 2009, way before the onslaught of natural calamities that flooded urban centers and many provinces of Luzon.

"If the budget under the P12-B supplemental program for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction of damages in areas hit by recent typhoons does not include the resettlement of families affected by earlier demolitions and clearing operations, then HB 5623 must be given due course by the Senate," Valencia pointed out.

The original objective of HB 5623 when approved in January 2009 is to provide resettlement to some 126,320 families that were expected to be displaced by demolitions and clearing operations in Metro Manila as well as to some 12,082 families that will be affected by government infrastructure projects through the establishment of resettlement centers, home sites or town sites, whether off-site or beneficiary-led, through the Community Mortgage Program or other socialized housing programs.

"This is a permanent solution to the problem of informal settlers in Metro Manila and provide a live of dignity to our poor Filipino families," Valencia said.

The bill, which is pending in the Senate, designates the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council in consultation with the Metro Manila Inter-Agency Committee and the Local Government Unit as host site, to assist in the resettlement of beneficiaries through a beneficiary-led or off-site Community Mortgage Program or other socialized housing programs.

The bill also designates the responsibility to undertake the census of beneficiaries to the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor in coordination with the MMIAC and the LGU concerned. The census of beneficiaries shall be cross-checked with the census of the National Housing Authority. (Gil Bugaoisan)

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