The Committee on Housing and Urban Development approved on the Wednesday afternoon the substitute bill to the proposed local government unit (LGU)-led on-site, in-city, or near-city resettlement Act, which was proposed primarily to respond to the concerns of informal settler families (ISFs) from the metropolis.

220717 Congress Joint Session 02 Romero - House panel approves LGU-led City Resettlement Act

“It’s about time, talagang napakahalaga ng batas na ito (this proposed law truly is important),” said panel chairman and Cavite 2nd district Rep. Strike Revilla after carrying a motion approved the substitute bill during a virtual hearing.

The substitute measure represents the consolidated version of eight separate bills, namely House Bill (HB) Nos. 42, 156, 236, 2861, 3041, 3227, 4245 and 4869. 

This proposed statute in the current 18th Congress seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No.7279, as amended, otherwise known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.

“The Committee Secretary is hereby instructed to file the Committee Report and the substitute bill with the Bills and Index Service,” Revilla said.

One of the authors, Quezon City 5th district Rep. Alfred Vargas, contended in HB No. 236 that the Urban Development and Housing Act “fell short in addressing the plight of the homeless poor.”

“Families in resettlement areas outside Metro Manila lament about hunger and poverty due to lack of livelihood opportunities, expensive electricity and water charges, and added commute costs as establishments like schools and markets are too far from the resettlement area. As a result, some families resort to selling their home units and moving back to informal settlements in the Metro,” Vargas wrote in his explanatory note.

Another author in Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez provided figures to support the viability of an on-site, in-city, or near-city resettlement policy.

“Based on a 2016 study conducted by the University of Asia and the Pacific, It is estimated that the Philippines will have a housing need of 12.3 million by 2030. In the same study, it was found out that in 2015, there was an excess of around 253,300 high-end (or open market) houses and 307,740 mid-priced homes, many of which are situated within the National Capital Region (NCR) and the country’s other urban centers,” he said in HB No.4869.

“At present, the government’s policy housing and resettlement is primarily off-site relocation. Under this policy, the government builds houses for ISFs in areas outside Metro Manila where there is lack of employment, sustainable livelihoods, and social services,” the lawyer-congressman pointed out.

The Vargas and Rodriguez measures both subscribe to a “People’s Plan,” which shall serve as the basis for the ISFs’ resettlement.

Rodriguez defines the People’s Plan as the plan formulated by the beneficiary-association in coordination with the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor with or without the support of civil society organizations, which shall contain a site development plan that conforms to the comprehensive land use plan of the LGU under whose jurisdiction the project site is proposed to be located.

“This will ensure that the ISFs were properly consulted and that their concerns regarding employment, livelihood, and access to basic services are addressed,” Vargas said of the People’s Plan.

The bill for an LGU-led on-site, in-city, or near-city resettlement was approved by the House of Representatives during the previous 17th Congress, but didn’t prosper into a law.

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