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Duterte OKs awarding of unoccupied housing units

President Rodrigo Duterte. File/ Ace Morandante, Malacañang Photo

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a joint resolution of Congress seeking the awarding of unoccupied housing units of cops, soldiers and other uniformed personnel to other qualified beneficiaries.

Duterte signed on May 9 Joint Resolution No. 2, approving the distribution of unoccupied housing units to other qualified beneficiaries who are in need of shelter.

The resolution states that unawarded housing units, awarded housings that are not yet occupied and whose ownership and possession are surrendered by their respective awardees in favor of another housing project, and housing units whose respective awards were cancelled due to their owners’ failure to pay amortization or violation of terms and conditions of loan agreement, shall be awarded to qualified beneficiaries.

“The housing need faced by the country is too huge to be ignored and it will, without doubt, serve public good and welfare if aforestated housing projects… are awarded by the NHA (National Housing Authority) to other low-salaried government employees and other qualified beneficiaries, giving priority to those belonging to the lowest 30 percent of the urban income earners,” the resolution reads.

The resolution cites low-salaried government employees like public school teachers, employees of the city or municipality that has jurisdiction over the housing project, barangay officials and employees, informal settlers in the area where the project is located, underprivileged and homeless families in urban centers and those displaced by government infrastructure projects, as among those who may be awarded with the housing units.

The NHA Board was also tasked to formulate the rules and regulations for the awarding of housing units.

The Department of Budget and Management said P20.779 billion was released to fund housing projects for cops, soldiers, and other uniformed personnel as of March 31, 2017. The budget was allocated for the building of 74,195 housing units.

The NHA said of the 74,195 housing units, 68,836 was already completed as of July 31, 2017. Of the completed units, only 8,837 are occupied.

“COA concluded that the low occupancy rate of the completed housing units will result in the loss of opportunity for government to recover costs that can be spent for other social projects, fast deterioration of the units, exposure of the units to the risk of being occupied by families/persons other than the intended beneficiaries, and deprivation of the intended beneficiaries of the timely use of and benefits from the program,” the resolution read.

The resolution added that the low occupancy rate also indicates a ”failed” housing program in the of the magnitude of the need for housing.

Both chambers of Congress earlier launched a probe on the government’s housing program after urban poor group Kadamay illegally took over some idle housing units in Bulacan meant for policemen and soldiers.

Duterte has since allowed urban poor groups to keep the housing units and promised cops and soldiers of bigger and better housing units.

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