Under a Senate bill strengthening the government’s housing program, the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) is mandated to provide shelter to informal settlers living in risk areas like shorelines, river banks and other danger zones.
SHFC also has been given a key role under the recently approved-Senate bill that also aims to decongest MetroManila by luring back people to their provinces.
Senate Bill No. 203, or the National Housing Development, Production and Financing (NHDPF) Act of 2019, authored by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, primarily aims to significantly reduce the country’s housing backlog through continuous funding support.
But Go also said that the NHDPF will complement the housing component of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program, which he also proposed, that lures Filipinos, who need sufficient housing when they voluntarily return to their home provinces to start life anew after the Covid-19 crisis.
Under the NHDPF, the SHFC, headed by its president, Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling, shall undertake social housing programs that will cater to the formal and informal sectors in the low-income bracket and to take charge of developing and administering social housing programs, particularly the Community Mortgage Program (CMP) and its different modalities.
The CMP, the flagship project of the SHFC which is the key state agency implementing the government’s socialized housing program, extends low-interest, short-term loans to low-income, homeless Filipinos through their organized homeowners associations.
TOP PRIORITY IN BALIK PROBINSYA
Informal settlers in danger who want to return to their respective provinces will be among those prioritized as beneficiaries of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) program, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser on Wednesday, May 13.
Also in the priority list are Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), added Roque in a virtual presser.
“Ang mga priorities po natin ay iyong mga gusto na talagang bumalik permanently sa probinsya. Pangalawa, iyong mga informal settlers po natin gusto na ring umuwi lalo na iyong nakatira po do sa mga danger zones dito sa Metro Manila (Our priorities will be those who permanently want to return to their respective provinces. Second, informal settlers who want to return especially those living in danger zones in Metro Manila),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser on Wednesday.
PWDs who want to return to their respective provinces will also be prioritized, he added.
Roque said that while all Filipinos could apply as beneficiaries, the government will have to assess who are the most deserving to avail of the program’s benefits.
“Lahat po ng gustong mag-apply, puwede po kayong mag-apply. Eh lahat naman po iyan ay mayroon tayong panuntunan na susundin (All those who want to apply may apply. But all of these will have guidelines we will have to follow),” Roque said.
While none of the applications will be denied, the government will have to identify who among the applicants would succeed in having an improved quality of life in rural areas.
“Wala pong ide-deny na application, pero ang assessment po ay gagawin na titingnan po talaga na pupuwede talaga silang magkaroon ng bagong buhay doon sa gusto nilang balikan na probinsya (None of the applications will be denied but the assessment that will be made is to see who among the applicants can really have a new life when they return to their provinces),” he said.
Earlier, Roque assured that the government will craft mechanisms to ensure that beneficiaries of the BP2 program will no longer return to Metro Manila.
Currently, the guidelines for the full and effective implementation of the BP2 program are now being formulated.
The BP2 program, a pet project of President Rodrigo Duterte’s former aide and now Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, seeks to decongest Metro Manila which is home to 12.87 million Filipinos.
Last week, Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) 114 which institutionalizes the BP2 program “to ensure balanced regional development and equitable distribution of wealth, resources and opportunities.”
The BP2 program also aims to boost countryside development and inclusive growth, provide adequate social services, and promote full employment, industrialization and an improved quality of life in rural areas.
It is also meant to prepare the country for the “new normal” after the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and other future health crises.
The national government is now coordinating with local government units to ensure the safe return of those who will be relocated to their respective provinces.
Around 3,000 persons who are residing in Metro Manila but want to return to their respective provinces have already been identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). (With PNA report)