Senate approves bill creating Department of Human Settlements

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Joseph Victor G. Ejercito TRAIN
SENATOR Joseph Victor G. Ejercito — PHILSTAR

THE Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill creating the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.

Senate Bill No. 1578 was approved with 19 affirmative votes, no negative vote, and no abstention. The bill was sponsored by Senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito, chair of the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement.

The proposed department will act as the sole policymaking body for all housing and urban development concerns.

“I believe that the creation of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development is a measure that is responsive to the wide clamor for the government to expedite the provision of decent and safe housing units to homeless Filipino families,” Mr. Ejercito said in a statement.

The proposed department consolidates all government housing agencies and combines the administrative functions of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the planning and regulatory functions of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

Mr. Ejercito said the department will be composed of the office of the Secretary, bureaus of policy development, coordination, monitoring and evaluation, environmental land use, as well as urban planning and development, housing and real estate development regulation and the homeowners association and community development.

The proposed measure also establishes a national shelter board to provide a coherent and streamlined plan for the housing and urban sector development sector.

The board will be composed of the secretary of the department, and the heads of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Finance (DoF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Housing Authority (NHA), Home Guaranty Cooperation (HGC), National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), and the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC).

The last time the Philippines had a similar agency was during the martial-law regime of then President Ferdinand E. Marcos. The Ministry of Human Settlements was then headed by Mr. Marcos’s wife, Imelda R. Marcos.

The bill’s counterpart measure in the House of Representatives was approved on third and final reading last February. — Camille A. Aguinaldo