Office of the Vice President
5 August 2017
Vice President Leni Robredo said local governments should be given the capacity to address the housing needs of communities affected by natural calamities and disasters.
VP Leni, former chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, reiterated her earlier stand that the national government should download funds directly to local government units, in order to make the process faster.
She emphasized that, in many instances, local governments were in a better position to understand and respond promptly to the needs of their constituents.
“[I]-download na sa LGU iyong budget para sa housing, kasi tingin ko iyon lang iyong paraan kung paano siya mapapabilis,” she told reporters during her visit to families affected by the recent 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Kananga, Leyte.
“[U]na, mas mabilis. Pangalawa, tingin ko iyong munisipyo, nasa better position para mag-determine ng mga pangangailangan. Tingin ko iyon lang talaga. Hanggang ngayon, ina-advocate pa rin natin na ibaba na sa munisipyo,” she explained.
VP Leni noted that they started this initiative at HUDCC by meeting with governors of provinces affected by supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013. Funds for shelter assistance were eventually downloaded to the local government of Palawan, which enabled it to address a long-standing demand for 8,760 housing units.
The Vice President explained that insisting on a centralized approach led by national government agencies like the National Housing Authority (NHA) slows down emergency shelter assistance, since the NHA also handles housing projects for other sectors.
She added: “Iyong pangalawang problema, kasi bina-bulk niya iyong kontrata kasi maramihan. Siyempre kung malaki iyong amount, iyong magku-qualify, malalaking contractors. Ang mahirap kapag malalaki iyong contractors, ang iba wala namang presence dito. So noong nasa Housing ako, nakita namin, hanggang apat o limang sub-contractors ang nangyayari. Ang naiiwan, kaunti na lang na amount para sa totoong housing unit.”
A total of 205,128 housing units were needed for Yolanda survivors, across 15 provinces. Coming into the council in 2016, VP Leni had noted that only 25,000—or a mere one percent—had been completed.
During her five-month stint, which ended when she resigned in December 2016, 17,000 more houses had been built for Yolanda-affected communities.
Seeing how bureaucratic red tape hampered the process, HUDCC, under VP Leni, signed a memorandum of agreement with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and NHA to fast-track the issuance of Certificate of Tax Exemption for socialized housing projects.
The agency had also prepared a draft executive order to allow the government to award “rights-based security of tenure” documents to intended beneficiaries of housing aid. This would be done in lieu of land titles, the tedious process for which was seen as a bottleneck in constructing the needed housing units.
After stepping down as Housing czar, VP Leni’s office took in housing as its sixth key advocacy under its flagship anti-poverty program, Angat Buhay.
For her visit in Kananga, the Vice President reiterated that they are willing to extend more sustainable assistance to communities affected by the earthquake, particularly about their livelihood.
Upon the request of the LGU, the OVP committed to provide 3,200 GI sheets, which will be used in the construction of temporary shelter for the residents, who are currently staying in makeshift tents.