Housing construction, relative to the huge housing need (3.6 million in 2001-2004) has been modest. Against a target of 1.2 million units of housing assistance or shelter security units (i.e., a house, house and lot, or lot only), the housing sector, through the National Shelter Program, was able to provide 882,823 shelter security units or an accomplishment rate of 73.6 per cent as of June 2004. From 1998 to 2000, achievements in the provision of mass housing were modest. The housing subsector sought to provide shelter security units especially for the poor by promoting security of tenure in housing.
The housing demand-supply ego remains as critical as ever in view of rapid urbanization abetted by in-city migration, rapid population growth and formation of new households, and the current slowdown of the country’s economic growth.
Housing Assistance Needs
Demand for housing continues to grow as the Philippine population continues to grow rapidly. Government resources are, however, limited and most public programs tend to produce complete shelter packages largely unaffordable to the poor. Annual population growth rate is estimated at 2.36 per cent while urbanization rate (i.e., the proportion of urban areas to total land area) is 52 per cent. For the period 2005-2010, the housing need is projected to be 3.75 million units. In terms of geographical location, more than half of the total housing need (56 per cent) is in Southern Tagalog, Metropolitan Manila, and Central Luzon, 21 per cent in the Visayas and the remaining 23 per cent in Mindanao.
In terms of geographical location, more than half of the total housing need (56 per cent) is in Southern Tagalog, Metropolitan Manila, and Central Luzon, 21 per cent in the Visayas and the remaining 23 per cent in Mindanao.
In 2002, the Government estimated that there were 588,853 informal settler families or squatter households nationwide. More than half of the informal settlers or 51 per cent were in the NCR, Region VI, and Region IV. On the other hand, the areas with the least number of informal settlements were CAR, Region I and the ARMM. These informal settlers live in dwelling units that are substandard or are not durable for at least five years, mostly in urban areas characterized by slums with little or no basic or auxiliary services such as safe water, health center, elementary and high schools, and decent and gainful livelihood opportunities.
Relevant legislation: Land and Housing Development
Batas Pambansa Blg. 220, otherwise known as the Social Housing Law, liberalizes land development and construction standards to enable production of low-cost housing.
Presidential Decree No. 399,also known as the Striplands Law, reserves strips of land along national and provincial roads, which is within 1,000 meters, for urban development and human settlement purposes.
Republic Act No. 7279, otherwise known as the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) outlines a three-point agenda which include – a) fostering people’s participation in the urban development process; b) empowerment of local government units to address urban development issues particularly homelessness; and c) private sector participation in the national shelter program in exchange for incentives. UDHA provides impetus to social housing development through incentives, funding allocations, land identification mechanisms, and imposition of social housing quota on land developers.
Legislation on Squatting and Eviction
Another important feature of UDHA is that it discourages eviction or demolition as a practice. Eviction is allowed only under the following conditions, viz: when persons occupy danger areas; or when government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be implemented; or when there is a court order for eviction and demolition. The law also outlines the guidelines for eviction, viz – the provision of basic services and facilities in resettlement sites, livelihood support, meaningful participation and adequate social preparation for the affected households, close coordination between sending and host local government units, grievance redress and related aspects.
Republic Act No. 8368, also known as the Anti-Squatting Repeal Act of 1997, an act repealing Presidential Decree No. 772, a decree Penalizing Squatting and Other Similar Acts. It is also an act that decriminalizes squatting.
Executive Order No. 129 established an institutional mechanism to curtail the activities of professional squatting syndicates and professional squatters and intensifying the drive against them. This E.O. protects the rightful beneficiaries of the UDHA from the squatting syndicates and professional squatters who continuously prey on and victimize the former by sowing disinformation, collecting fees and inflicting harassment.
Executive Order No. 152 (December 10, 2002), Designating the Presidential Commission for the urban Poor (PCUP) as the Sole Clearing House for the Conduct of Demolition and Eviction /Activities Involving the Homeless and Underprivileged Citizens and Establishing for the Purpose a Mechanism to Ensure Strict Compliance with the Requirements of Just and Humane Demolition and Eviction Under the urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, and for other Purposes. The said EO minimized arbitrary demolition and eviction activities.
Executive Order No. 153 (December 10, 2002),Institutionalizing the National Drive to Suppress and Eradicate Professional Squatting and Squatting Syndicates, Amending EO Nos. 178 S. of 1999 and 129, S. of 1993, and for Other Purposes, ensures that only the legitimate homeless and underprivileged are the beneficiaries of the government housing programs.
Executive Order No. 178 created the National Police Task Force on Professional Squatters and Squatting Syndicates. The Task Force will vigorously pursue the apprehension and prosecution of professional squatters and squatting syndicates nationwide.
Republic Act No. 8974 (November 07, 2000), an Act to Facilitate the Acquisition of Right-of-Way, Site or Location for National Government Infrastructure Projects and for other Purposes, amplifies the resettlement processes of informal dwellers affected by government infrastructure projects.
Legislation on Land and Property Regulation
Presidential Decree No. 957, also known as Subdivision and Condominium Buyers Protective Decree, prescribes the comprehensive rules and standards to govern the development, sale and regulation of subdivision and condominium projects.
Presidential Decree No. 1098, otherwise known as the Building Code, codifies all laws, rules and standards for building construction.
Presidential Decree No. 1216, also known as the Open Space Requirement, amend PD 957 by prescribing the open space requirements for subdivision projects and the uses to which such space may be devoted.
Republic Act No. 4762, also known as Condominium Law, serves as the enabling law for the establishment of condominium corporations, and provides the comprehensive rules on condominium ownership, registration of titles and condominium administration.
Republic Act No. 6552, otherwise known as the Realty Installment Buyer Protection Act, provides protection to installment buyers against onerous and oppressive conditions. The law provides that in case of non-payment of installment, the contract will not be cancelled outright but the buyer will be given a grace period equivalent to one month per year of installment payment made, without additional interest. If the buyer cannot pay within the grace period and the contract is cancelled, the buyer does not lose everything as he is entitled to a refund of 50 per cent of the total payments made.
Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, prescribes the powers of the local government units to enact zoning ordinances and reclassify agricultural lands into non-agricultural.
Republic Act No. 9161, otherwise known as the Rental Reform Act of 2002, sets out restrictions and requirements on the imposition of rent on leased residential properties in urban areas.
Republic Act No. 9275, otherwise known as the Clean Water Act of 2004, provides, among others, for – a) the interconnection of sewage lines of residential, industrial and commercial projects; b) the manner of regulating effluent of industrial establishments; and c) incentives for establishments investing in wastewater treatment or pollution control facilities.
Legislation on Land and House Financing
Presidential Decree No. 1530 provided for the creation of the Pag-Ibig Fund. The Pag-Ibig Fund provides for a system of government and private employee contributions, with employer counterpart, to be pooled into a mutual fund, 70 per cent of which is mandated to be allocated to home loans of Fund members. The Pag-IBIG Fund is the single biggest home financing institution in the country. As of December 2005, 34.94 per cent of the total accounts financed by different government and private financial institutions equivalent to P94.32 billion were generated by the Fund.
Republic Act No. 7835, also known as the Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Finance Act, prescribes funding sources and additional budgetary appropriations for home lending programs and housing development programs of the housing agencies.
Simon, et. al. v. Commission on Human Rights, G.R. No. 100150, 5 January 1994
Upon the petition of vendors and squatters occupying a property located in Quezon City, the PCHR issued an order directing the Quezon City government "to desist from demolishing the stalls and shanties at North EDSA pending resolution of the vendors/squatters' complaint before the Commission.” The mayor of Quezon City and his deputies proceeded with the demolition. Hence, the PCHR cited them in contempt and imposed upon them a fine of Php5,000.00 each. The mayor and his deputies went to the Supreme Court questioning the power of the Commission to take cognizance of the case and its power to cite them in contempt.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution empowers the PCHR to "investigate, on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights" (Sec. 1). The term "civil rights,” refers to those “rights that belong to every citizen of the state or country, or, in wider sense, to all its inhabitants, and are not connected with the organization or administration of the government.” The term political rights, on the other hand, was interpreted to mean, “the right to participate, directly or indirectly, in the establishment or administration of government, the right of suffrage, the right to hold public office, the right of petition and, in general, the rights appurtenant to citizenship vis-a-vis the management of government.”
According to the Court, the order for the demolition of the stalls and establishments does not fall within the compartment of "human rights violations involving civil and political rights" intended by the Constitution.
It bears quoting the following words of the Court –
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as, or more specifically, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, suggests that the scope of human rights can be understood to include those that relate to an individual's social, economic, cultural, political and civil relations. It thus seems to closely identify the term to the universally accepted traits and attributes of an individual, along with what is generally considered to be his inherent and inalienable rights, encompassing almost all aspects of life.”
The creation of several housing agencies manifests the Government’s strong commitment to promote the right to housing.
The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), created through EO 90, is the highest policy making and coordinating office on shelter. It is an umbrella organization which consists of the heads of the four (4) housing agencies, viz, National Housing Authority (NHA), Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC), National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (HGC), and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB); the heads of three (3) funding agencies, such as SSS, GSIS and Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF); the heads of seven (7) government support agencies, viz., Presidential Management Staff (PMS), DOF, DBM, NEDA, DBP, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA); and the two (2) private sector representatives consisting of NGOs and private developers.
The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), which is under the administrative supervision of the HUDCC. The sole regulatory body for housing and land development. It is charged with encouraging greater private sector participation in low-cost housing through liberalization of development standards, simplification of regulations and decentralization of approvals for permits and licenses.
The NHA, a government-owned and controlled corporation which is operating under the supervision of the HUDCC, was mandated to be the sole public agency engaged in direct shelter production through, a) development and implementation of a comprehensive and integrated housing development and resettlement program; b) formulation and enforcement of general and specific policies for housing development and resettlement c) determination and development of government lands suitable for housing; d) exercise of the right of eminent domain or acquisition by purchase of privately owned lands for purposes of housing development, resettlement and related services and facilities; e) protection of the sustainability of socialized housing funds by undertaking cost recovery, among others.
The Home Guaranty Corporation is tasked to operate a credit guaranty program in support of government efforts to promote home ownership. Since its creation in 1950 as the Home Financing Commission, the HGC has institutionalized a viable system of credit guarantees that has become an integral component of the shelter program of government. HGC stands alone and unique in this field of housing finance. No other government institution or instrumentality, for lack of enabling law, can provide the risk cover and tax incentives that HGC is authorized to extend. HGC provides risk guarantees and fiscal incentives for housing credits extended by financing institutions, thereby stimulating the flow of funds from both the government and private sectors for housing and urban development. –provides guarantee, loan insurance and other incentives to assist private developers to undertake low and middle income mass housing production and encourage institutional funds and commercial lenders to finance such housing development.
The National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation, a major government home mortgage institution, is mandated to develop the secondary mortgage market.
The Home Development Mutual Fund, which is more popularly known as Pag-Ibig Fund, is charged with the development of savings scheme for home acquisition by private and government employees.
To further improve access to housing by the poor, EO 272, series of 2004, provided for the creation of the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) that will cater to the housing needs of the bottom 30 per cent of the poor population. EO 272 also transferred the implementation of the Community Mortgage Program and Abot-Kaya Pabahay Program from the NHMFC to the SHFC as the former’s subsidiary.
Policies and Programs
The Government’s efforts in housing are directed towards three main tasks: Direct Housing Provision, Indirect Provision and the Enforcement of Regulations. The Direct Housing Provision involves securing the housing tenure of informal settlers, as well as delivering low-cost housing units and affordable financing, especially for families in the lowest 30 per cent of the population. Towards this end, the Government has been implementing various programs on land distribution, relocation, mortgage financing and housing development. These programs have provided shelter security to over 614,000 families since 2001.
One of the programs that have been aggressively pursued by the Government is the disposition of its idle properties for shelter purposes. This has led to the fast tracking of the asset reform program, which aims to convert idle government-owned lands into housing sites. Presidential proclamations were issued identifying specific properties for disposition to qualified beneficiaries. Since informal settlers are already occupying many of these idle government-owned lands, it thus became a matter of formalizing their land tenure and giving them the chance to own their land tenure and giving them the chance to own their lots. Thus far, the President has issued a total of 96 such proclamations, which secured the housing tenure of 195,445 families.
One major undertaking of the Government that has led to securing the housing tenure of informal settler on a massive scale is the relocation project for the “riles” dwellers living along the Northrail and Southrail lines. In Northrail, the government has relocated a total of 21,023 families from the Metro Manila and Bulacan Segments, completing phase 1 of the clearing and resettlement operations. These families have voluntarily moved to their respective resettlement sites, which the government has dubbed the Northville communities. This is the most massive relocation project to be undertaken by the government so far, HUDCC did without the violent conflicts associated with relocation. For the Southrail project, which involves the rehabilitation of the existing PNR Commuter Service line from Caloocan to Alabang, a total of 7,404 families have been relocated, particularly along the Manila, Makati and Cabuyao Segments. To sustain the momentum, the President instructed HUDCC to clear the large portion of Manila along with Taguig and Muntinlupa.
Urban Development Initiatives
One is the development of the 416 hectare New Bilibid Prison Property in Taguig into mixed residential, commercial and institutional use. President Arroyo has already signed the attendant proclamations and Executive Order on this matter. HUDCC takes the lead in the development plan for this project with the NHA as implementor. Second is the North-East Triangle Development Project which is envisioned to transform the area into commercial, business and residential center. This is a daunting task considering the complicated status of the properties, including the presence of informal settlers. Thirdly, HUDCC is also in-charge of other properties that are up for development like the 1,500 hectare San Miguel, Bulacan government housing site, various commercial areas, the Fabela Hospital-Central Market area, the Monemento Mall, and the Subic Properties.
Community Mortgage Program
The Community Mortgage Program (CMP) utilizes an innovative system of mortgage financing whereby an undivided tract of land may be acquired by several beneficiaries through the concept of community ownership. Financing through Community Mortgages is intended primarily to assist residents of blighted or depressed areas and/or the urban poor
CMP is a three-stage loan program—land purchase, site development, and house construction/improvement. Depending on its present capacity and needs, the borrowing community association may avail itself of the CMP loan either on three stages, or on a one-time basis. Maximum loanable amounts per family-beneficiary is up to PhP120,000 for those located in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas, or up to PhP100,000 in other areas, payable up to 25 years at six (6) per cent interest per annum.
Since January 2001, a total of PhP3.432 billion in total loans were granted under the CMP. From January to October 2006 alone, a total of PhP592,127,312.43 in total loans have been granted to some 10,992 family-beneficiaries who are located in 89 housing sites nationwide. This brought the cumulative total to PhP6.41 billion loans granted to 179,984 informal settlers in 1,431 housing sites.
What has made the overall performance of CMP remarkable and meaningful to the homeless low-income earners is its having kept housing loans within the affordability levels of the majority of informal-income earners. Based on records, average loan availments per family beneficiary of CMP was at PhP33,331. Amortized at PhP239 a month, the loan is within the income capability of workers earning as low as PhP3,101 a month.39
CMP has also enabled the participation of various community-based stakeholders in joining their resources and expertise to help the homeless who are considered as the “poorest of the poor.” These include the people’s and non-government organizations involved in urban poor housing; the local government units, which are tasked as the main implementors of socialized housing in their localities; and government and private agencies that serve will assist, organize and originate the community for CMP.
As a measure of their participation, local government units have served as conduits or originators of CMP loans in the total amount of PhP141.8-million in 2005. This comprises 19.6 per cent of the total of PhP722.4 million CMP loans granted in 2005. NGOs, as loan conduits have assisted in the grant of more than 50 per cent of loan released during that year.
By virtue of E.O. 272, Social Housing Finance Corporation assumed from the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) the development and implementation of CMP. Made operational in October 2005, SHFC celebrated its first year of operation last Oct. 2006. During its first year (Oct. 2005 to Sept. 2006), SHFC posted an all-time high record of PhP839.4-million in CMP loans granted to a corresponding total of 15,788.
Presidential Proclamations on Housing
Last 28 May 2001, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 20 reaffirming the government’s commitment to mass housing as a centerpiece program in its poverty alleviation effort.
In order to address the housing problem, particularly those belonging to the bottom 40 per cent of urban households, the Arroyo administration pursued the regularization of tenure of informal settler families (ISFs) through the issuance of Presidential proclamations declaring parcels of public lands open for disposition to qualified beneficiaries. In addition, the Government targeted the conversion of government idle or vacant lands into housing sites that are intended to benefit low-salaried government employees, including soldiers and policemen. 40
As of 31 August 2006, the regional breakdown of proclaimed sites for housing shows the following data: