MANILA — Housing backlogs in the Philippines could reach the 10-million mark by the end of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr's term, an official of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) warned Friday.
During the Senate Finance committee hearing, DHSUD Assistant Secretary Avelino Tolentino III gave this bleak scenario while presenting the agency’s originally proposed P95.89-billion budget for 2023, which the Department of Budget and Management slashed to P3.952 billion under the National Expenditure Program (NEP).
Agencies operating under the DHSUD include the National Housing Authority (NHA), the National Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC), Human Development Mutual Fund, Home Guaranty Corporation and the Human Settlement Adjudication Commission.
From year 2021 to June 2022, the DHSUD produced 294,142 housing units.
The NHA meanwhile provided housing assistance to 85,174 families.
This year, the country faces a 6.5-million backlog, according to Tolentino.
To slowly ease the housing problem in the country, the government needs to produce at least 1 million units, Tolentino said.
“If we peg ang ating housing needs and housing production, we’re only hitting 17 percent. The current program budget is only supporting 17 percent," Tolentino told the committee.
"If we’ll continue business as usual, at the end of (Marcos Jr) administration we might need housing units of 10.9 million. Hopefully ma-curb natin siya (backlog) at hindi umabot sa ganun,” he added.
(If we peg our housing needs and housing production, we’re only hitting 17 percent... Hopefully it will be curbed, we will not reach that.)
At the hearing, DHSUD officials presented a video of their condominium-type housing projects to be constructed in various parts of the country.
The video presentation also narrated that the target projects will be constructed in cities, so that would-be recipients will be encouraged to accept, stay and regularly pay their unit.
Forty percent of the condominium type housing projects will be “open spaces” and there will be playground for children, sports facilities for adults and other amenities, said Housing Undersecretary Gerry de Guzman.
“By 2050, 7 out of 10 people will living in these cities,” part of the video presentation stated.
“The target size is 24sqm… Depending on the locality, it could be a 20-story. In other cities or municipalities we can limit it to 4 to 5 stories,” Housing Undersecretary Henry Yap said.
Across 6 years, this will require a budget of P36 billion, according to DHSUD Secretary Jose Acuzar.
To successfully realize the project, the government would also need the steady support of the private sector, the official said.
That project falls under the Marcos administration’s “Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino Program” or 4Ps, Acuzar noted.
But Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III asked, "Isn’t it too ambitious?"
"To wake us up ginawa nyong very ambitious. Why not make it a more realistic year na for what year makikita natin and instead na simultaneous yun una?” Pimentel noted.
(You made it very ambitious. Why not make it more realistic, set targets for what we will see every year, instead of doing it simultaneously?)
Without the P36-billion fund, indigent families who will eventually receive the unit would have to pay P6,500 a month. The government’s target is to have them pay P3,000 to P3,500 monthly amortization per unit, De Guzman said.
“Kaya naman daw nilang mag-rent ng P6,000 a month eh... Imagine paying the fee na P6,000 a month for 30 years na hindi nag-i-increase utang mo,” De Guzman pointed out.
(They say they can rent a unit at P6,000 a month. Imagine paying the P6,000 a month fee for 30 years, without your debt increasing.)
Meanwhile, the NHA reported that majority of Kadamay members who forcibly occupied its housing project in Pandi, Bulacan originally intended for uniformed personnel have already submitted their requirements and are now the registered recipients of the units.
Monthly amortization for the property is at P203 for the first 4 years and P1,320 for the next 26 years, Tai said.
NHA General Manager Joeben Tai said that other housing units which soldiers and policemen have refused to accept due to its distance from the city and size are now being offered to overseas Filipino workers and single parents.
Housing units for indigent families and disaster victims have a monthly amortization between P600 and a little over P1,000, Tai said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros criticized the alleged discrimination between indigent and disaster victims and government employees and uniformed personnel who are entitled to a 60-square meter house and lot loan.
Tai said units this big have a P10,000 to P20,000 monthly amortization, which the underprivileged sector could not afford.
De Guzman added that socialized housing units are “tax-free,” unlike the bigger middle class-type housing units.
Pimentel maintained that the project is “too ambitious.”
“Kaya sabi ko make it realistic. Well, at least they are trying their best, parang itong thinking outside of the box... Kaya lang pagdating kasi sa housing sector, these are infrastructure, these are building. It will boil down to funding,” Pimentel said.
(This is like thinking outside the box. However, when it comes to the housing sector, these are infrastructure.)
“May nakikita kasi ako na use ng pera nila para rin silang nagdi-DSWD eh. Concentrate na lang sana sila sa construction of the housing unit that our population need. And then let the DSWD take care of the calamity victims,” the senator added.
(I see that they are using their funds as if they are the DSWD. Just concentrate on the construction of the housing unit that our population need.)
Pimentel also questioned the housing agencies’ supposed discrimination when it comes to the size of housing units.
“May mali nga eh, because the assumption is the same family size. We are all human beings. Ang space natin pare-pareho eh. Dapat hindi nga ganun.. we do not discriminate the poor and the very poor,” Pimentel said.
(There is something wrong... Our space is all the same. It should not be like that.)