Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:13 PM July 17, 2021
To further boost government efforts in protecting homebuyers and curbing real estate malpractices, the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) signed earlier this month Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 1, which paves the way for the creation of the Anti-Illegal Real Estate Practices Inter-Agency Task Force.
I am more than thrilled that the Departments of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) with the Philippine National Police (PNP); Justice (DOJ) with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Land Registration Authority (LRA); Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) have committed their full support to DHSUD’s initiative to run after real estate scammers.
This is a concrete manifestation of a whole-of-government approach to ensure harmonization of efforts within the bureaucracy—this time, in protecting the hard-earned money and lifetime savings of our home buyers and prosecute real estate scammers.
Ending illicit practices
The JMC, crafted after months of consultations with concerned stakeholder agencies, aims to put an end to the illicit practices of unscrupulous developers, brokers and salespersons engaged in illegal selling of housing, subdivision and condominium projects.
It sets the parameters for collaboration among implementing agencies and other stakeholders in the industry to protect home and unit buyers, especially overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), from becoming victims of illegal transactions.
With DHSUD’s regulatory function under Republic Act No. 11201, we are mandated to protect the rights of buyers of housing, subdivision and condominium project units. However, we need concerted efforts among other government agencies to multiply forces in curtailing the commission of these fraudulent acts.
Task force groups created
JMC No. 1 creates task force groups at the national, regional and local levels to ensure effective and coordinated implementation of the circular down to the municipal and city level. This will certainly boost DHSUD’s all-out campaign against real estate scammers. Its mere signing signals the government’s stern warning to these unscrupulous groups or individuals that we mean business in going after them with the full force of the law.
It is disheartening to know that the NBI alone reported “hundreds if not thousands” of complaints related to real estate transactions every year, mostly estafa. This is on top of those cases forwarded to the PNP and other law enforcement agencies.
This is alarming and unacceptable. These unscrupulous individuals and groups use social media platforms as a primary tool to keep their real identities unknown and lure unsuspecting buyers in duping them.
With the commitment of no less than DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra and other officials from stakeholder-agencies, I am confident that we will prevail over these real estate scammers as we protect the livelihood of legitimate brokers and agents and protect homebuyers as they purchase their dream houses.I would like to quote Secretary Guevarra’s message of commitment: “we shall waste no effort in ensuring that those who thwart this dream, through fraud and illegal practices, will be justly served what is due them under the law. It is our hope that in doing so, we may help fortify the pillars of the Philippine housing industry, and—more importantly—strengthen the very foundation upon which our people build their hopes and dreams.”
“We shall devote the expertise and knowledge of our men and women at the Department, including the NBI, the LRA and the Public Attorney’s Office, so that we may lend a firm and compassionate hand to assert the right of every honest and hardworking Filipino robbed of his dream of owning a decent home,” he added.
That is our collective commitment, and we shall prevail!
This article is first published in Philippine Daily Inquirer