3,000 hectares of government land eyed for informal settlers

Rodrigo Duterte

AT least 3,000 hectares of land are available for the new law signed by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte creating the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) to finally solve decades-long informal settlers’ problem, according to a House leader.

Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez, the principal author of the proposal and chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, said the 3,000 hectares of land will promote on-site, in-city or near-city housing projects for the poor that would protect their jobs.

Benitez said the lands are situated in Metro Manila as he underscored the need to construct at least 1 million units every year to address the country’s socialized housing backlog and further promote urban development.

“3,000 plus hectares of land are all located in Metro Manila and half of these are idle. Majority of these lands are owned by government centers in Quezon City,” said Benitez, adding that housing needs of Filipinos could balloon to 6.8 million before President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s term ends in 2022.

He said 1,234.85-hectare land is government-owned and currently being occupied by informal settler families (ISFs) while the 2,185-hectare public land is idle and ready for housing programs.

“(Under the law creating the DHSUD) the new housing department can now acquire all those government lands and facilitate the disposition of unused properties that are owned by the government for socialized housing. We need areas as the prime ingredient for successful housing program is land,” he said.

In a related development, 1-PACMAN party-list Rep. Michael “Mikee” Romero warned that housing and business space rent rates, swift rice tariff law execution, the current El Niño, election spending and buffer stocks of less costly oil and fuel are the top inflation concerns in the months ahead.

Romero, another principal author of the new law creating the DHSUD, said the new department “must immediately protect Filipino families and small entrepreneurs against high rental rates of housing units and business spaces in mixed-use residential condominiums and housing projects.”

He said housing costs are among the factors that have weight in the consumer price index and inflation monitoring of the government.

“The implementation roll out of the recently-signed rice tariffication law must be fast-paced. Ample supplies of cheaper imported rice must be in every public market of our country. Farmers must quickly feel the impact of the Rice Fund and the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund provided in the rice tariff law,” Romero, principal author of the Rice Tariffication Law, said.