QUEZON CITY – Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario highlighted the department’s role in the government’s battle against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during a briefing with the House of Representatives on Wednesday via video conference.

Secretary del Rosario, along with top DHSUD officials, updated the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, chaired by Rep. Strike Revilla, on the various measures implemented by the department, as well as its Key Shelter Agencies (KSAs) in support to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act provisions addressing the adverse effects of COVID-19.

He outlined DHSUD’s pro-active steps such as imposing a three-month moratorium on housing loans and short-term loans, as well as in-house financing payments, by the KSAs, namely the Home Mutual Development Fund or PagIbig Fund, Social Housing Finance Corp, National Home Mortgage Finance Corp and National Housing Authority.

“Our interventions were primarily aimed at assisting the general public cope-up with the adverse effects of COVID-19. We also sustained our engagements with our partner-developers to ensure all efforts are aligned,” Secretary Del Rosario said.

Secretary del Rosario also highlighted the resumption of construction works and real estate activities in the housing sector.

He stated that the development had prompted more than 55,000 individuals to stop depending on government aid and return back to work, citing the housing sector’s capability to pump-prime the economy.

The housing czar also emphasized the department’s role in the government’s Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) program.

“The department comes in for the ‘long-term’ intervention. Because we are looking at the Balik Probinsiya program not merely to decongest Metro Manila, but really to spur economic development in the provinces and regions,” the housing czar said.

In the forum, Secretary Del Rosario likewise stressed on the importance of addressing internal migration, noting that the government can resolve the problem by means of easing poverty and boosting agricultural programs in rural areas.

“This (Balik Probinsiya), in the long run, will address our problem on internal migration,” he stated.

With regards to the department’s and its KSAs’ operations amid the General Community Quarantine, Secretary del Rosario and KSA representatives said that they are operating with a skeletal workforce.

They likewise assured lawmakers that continued public service is being delivered while at the same time, proper health protocols are observed.

Secretary Del Rosario was also asked on the latest developments related to the rehabilitation efforts in the war-torn Marawi City. The Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) chairman reiterated that construction of vertical projects, including key public facilities, inside the Most Affected Area will go on full-blast starting in July this year.

He also assured lawmakers that the government’s December 2021 target timeline is still within reach.

“The TFBM and its implementing agencies remain steadfast in hastening Marawi City’s rehabilitation. We will work double time to fulfil President Rodrigo Duterte’s pledge of completing the city’s recovery by December 2021,” Secretary Del Rosario said. (30)