By ROGER M. BALANZA
The Philippines’ housing czar wants no less than strong and resilient houses that can withstand typhoons and earthquakes for the country’s homeless poor as the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte vigorously pursues its socialized housing program.
SOCIALIZED HOUSING. Atty. Junefe Payot, SHFC executive vice president (right), Housing Czar Eduardo del Rosario and SHFC president Atty. Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling (right), at the founding anniversary of the Social Housing Finance Corporation
Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, chairman of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) said recent calamities have placed people’s lives in danger due to poor housing that are helpless against typhoons and earthquakes.
“With the advent of calamities like the earthquake in Batanes and just recently in Mindanao where around 30,000 families were affected…there is need to focus on the importance of comprehensive plans to avoid or lessen the adverse impact to lives and properties from numerous typhoons, flash floods and landslides, among others,” said Del Rosario in his keynote speech at the 28th National Convention of the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) held on November 7 to 9 at the Philippine Convention Center in Pasay. The convention aimed at updating the participants on the latest laws, issuances, best practices, and planning trends in the profession.
“DHSUD will push for the construction of socialized housing units that can withstand 250kph winds and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, ” Del Rosario vowed.
The government’s socialized housing program is implemented by the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC), a key shelter agency under the DHSUD, headed by its president Atty. Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling.
In his speech, Del Rosario said that environmental planners and the PIEP “are indispensable in the overall strategy that DHSUD envisions.”
Del Rosario also discussed the crucial role that DHSUD will play in the management of urbanization so that the country can reap urbanization benefits that would help in forging smart, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities and communities, one of the main goals of urban or environmental planning.
SHFC has strengthened its roster of environmental planners and has a loaded bench of six licensed environmental planners mapping up strategies and programs of the agency’s urban housing to ensure delivery of affordable shelter to the homeless poor in the urban centers.
The SHFC sent its environmental planners to attend the conventions, among them SHFC Executive Vice President Atty. Jenefe Payot, OIC-Vice President for Special Projects Atty. Tristan Frederick Tresvalles, and Account Specialists Mr. Junard Amba and Mr. Milkyzedeck Bien, who all passed the environmental planners licensure exam in June. The agency now has a total of six licensed environmental planners, including Vice President for Engineering Engr. Elsa Calimlim and OIC-Manager for Central Luzon Operations Engr. John Lee.
According to Atty. Payot, who placed third in the June 2019 board exams for environmental planners, the three-day convention helped him in understanding the challenges of urbanization in the Philippines, particularly the central role of affordable housing to ensure inclusive urban development.
“From a social justice or rights discourse view, we need to ensure that everyone has access to adequate housing. By adequate, we mean housing that gives families—especially low-income earners — access to socio-economic as well as cultural and educational opportunities that are concentrated in our cities,” he explained.
Atty. Payot expressed confidence that shelter agencies like DHSUD and SHFC are now prepared for the important roles that they will play in urban development given the growing number of environmental or urban planners among their personnel, including those at the highest levels such as Assistant Secretary Melissa Aradanas and Directors Myles Rivera and Jeanette Cruz of the DHSUD.