Senator Francis Tolentino has pushed for the realignment of the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) 2021 resettlement funds to the Department Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).
Tolentino made the proposal during the deliberations of the DILG’s P243-billion proposed 2021 budget on Thursday as he questioned the inclusion of a Resettlement Government Assistance Fund (RGAF) in the agency’s spending plan.
He said the P87.289-million allocation for the RGAF should be transferred to the DHSUD since it is “beyond the purview” of the DILG’s competency.
“Kung halimbawa ang paggawa natin ng police stations ang DSWD, eh baka naman magreklamo kayo (If for example, we ask the Department of Social Welfare and Development to build police stations, you might also complain),” Tolentino told Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
He mentioned that Housing Sec. Eduardo Del Rosario’s confirmation before the powerful Commission on Appointments was “hanging in the balance” due to his department’s alleged non-focus as far as housing is concerned. Del Rosario had lamented about the lack of resources of his agency, Tolentino recalled.
Tolentino, who also chairs the Senate Housing Committee, also noted that the DILG’s housing program was initiated prior to the formal creation of the housing department. With the DHSUD already in place, he said this “only creates duplication and redundancy of tasks.”
Aside from the RGAF, the senator said there is also a P10-million Muslim Resettlement Relocation Services Fund in the DILG for war-torn Marawi City.
Año agreed with Tolentino and said they are planning to “eventually” transfer the resettlement programs to the DHSUD, but explained that the funds were not solely for housing infrastructure but also for other programs for governance reforms and resettlement matters.
He said the programs also intend to help local government units (LGUs) to accommodate and assist the relocated informal settlers.
“Isn’t it the function of the NHA (National Housing Authority) to coordinate with LGUs in terms of social preparation, relocation, and sustainable resettlement?” Tolentino asked Año.