Senator Christopher “Bong’’ Go has expressed his support for the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.

bong go 3 - Sen. Go backs 2021 budget of DHSUD
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Go believes that providing enough budget for DHSUD and its attached agencies would be a big help for the homeless and less fortunate Filipinos.

“Malaki po ang maitutulong nito sa ating mga kababayan. Patuloy po tayo sa pagtatrabaho para sa pangarap natin na maglagay ng bubong sa ibabaw ng ulo ng bawat Pilipino. At sana po, walang squatters sa sariling bayan,’’ Go said during a Senate public hearing on the DHSUD budget yesterday. (It will be a big help for our countrymen. We continue to work in order to realize our dream of providing shelter for every Filipino family. I hope there will be no more squatters in their own country.)

Go added that the need for proper and adequate housing could not be overemphasized by the government as he, himself, witnessed the struggle of the poor during his visits to victims of fire and other calamities.

Citing the super-typhoon ‘’Yolanda’’ housing project which was left unfinished, Go urged the DHSUD and concerned agencies to ensure that the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City would not suffer the same fate.

“We all know what happened in the Yolanda Rehabilitation before and it has never been the style of President Duterte to leave projects undone and without any use for the benefit of the Filipino people. Ayaw po natin mag-iwan ng mga white elephant po.’ (We do not want to leave “white elephants’). This should not happen again. I am certain Secretary Ed will not allow it,” Go said, referring to DHSUD Secretary Eduardo del Rosario.

Go reminded implementing agencies involved in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi City that the Duterte Administration does not want to see unfinished projects in the rehabilitation or see people blaming one another for shortcomings.

According to data from the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute, the country’s housing demand is estimated to grow to more than 6.57 million units from 2017 to 2022, and it will further rise to 22.6 million units by the end of 2040.

Meanwhile, the population of Informal Settler Families in the country is also continuing to increase. There are nearly two million informal settler families, as of 2019.

“Kaya po ginagawa ko po ang lahat para makatulong at makapagbigay ng kahit kaunting pag-asa sa mga kababayan natin,’’ he said. (I am doing my best to help and to provide a little hope for our countrymen.)

Last year, Go filed Senate Bill (SB) 203, or the National Housing Development, Production and Financing (NHDPF) Bill, which aims to institutionalize a program to address the growing housing needs of Filipinos by generating and mobilizing funds, and encouraging public and private sector participation, among others.

The bill seeks continuous funding support for the NHDPF Program even beyond the Duterte administration.

The Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement had its first hearing on the proposal last year.

Go also stressed that many Filipinos have expressed intent to return to their home provinces after the COVID-19 pandemic.

As proponent of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program, Go said the NHDPF bill would complement the housing component over the medium to long term as returning residents starting life anew need sufficient housing options.

The BP2 program is a long-term plan of the government to decongest Metro Manila and boost countryside development.

At the height of more stringent COVID-19 quarantine measures, the BP2 program’s initial rollouts were suspended to give way to President Duterte’s directive to prioritize the Hatid Tulong initiative, a transportation assistance program which helps locally stranded individuals (LSIs) return to their provinces.

“Despite temporarily suspending the subsequent rollouts, the preparations being conducted by concerned government agencies for the eventual implementation of the BP2 program remains in full swing,” Go said.

“That is why coordination, cooperation, and collaboration between the national agencies and concerned local government units are crucial to ensure that the respective provinces are ready to accept BP2 beneficiaries, take care of their needs, provide housing options, and ensure their safety and the safety of the rest of the communities in their area,” he added.

Under the NHDPF, the NHA will be the lead agency in developing various types of housing programs for the bottom 30 per cent of the population.

Some of the programs are resettlement housing programs for low-salaried government employees, settlements upgrading of calamity victims and land banking.

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