Senator Bongbong Marcos said that in order to ensure the success of the proposed national housing program for government employees, the LGUs and the private sector should team up with the key shelter agencies for the coordination of the various essential elements and services inherent to a housing program. Highlighting the role of the LGUs, the Senator quipped, “the local government units are the only entities that have lands everywhere that are needed.” However, heightened participation of the LGUs is crucial at this point considering the inventory reports from the LGUs leave so much to be desired. The HUDCC revealed that only an estimated 20% of LGUs, particularly concentrated in Regions 5, 8, 9, and 10, have so far reported and identified lands for housing purposes, netting only 29 sites or 17,523 hectares-worth of land classified as idle, vacant identified for socialized housing development.
The Senator from Ilocos Norte also stressed the importance of engaging the private sector for the housing program to be successful. “The government cannot make up for the shortfall by themselves. It is very clear that we have to find ways to bring more of the private sector into low-cost and socialized housing... We are going to have to talk about tax holidays and subsidies and other incentives so that we can bring the real estate developers back into low-cost and socialized housing,” Senator Bongbong said.
Senator Marcos emphasized the “need to change our idea of resettlement”. “We have to make sure that people are resettled into communities, and not merely structures”, he said, meaning that housing projects should incorporate as much as possible the elements and basic comforts of daily life, e.g., schools, churches, business establishments, transportation and communication facilities and other utilities. Thus, he said that here lies the other importance of the participation of the private developers. Government thus should take advantage of their careful feasibility studies and innovative approach to the business models of their housing projects which make them more capable of developing inhabitable and sustainable communities. “Pinag-aaralan nila nang mabuti ito and even the dynamic study of time and motion, and all of these things they do as a matter of course. And they have this kind of information and skill already acquired. So, we should take advantage of that. That’s why it is very important that the private developers be made a very important part of this housing effort.”
The civil service housing program is one of the priority bills of Senator Bongbong Marcos. It has commenced deliberations last 8 March 2011 and is set to resume in a few weeks’ time.