QUEZON CITY – Several senators are in favor of a bigger allotment for the country’s housing sector in the 2022 national budget.

At Tuesday’s Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee H session, led by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, at least three senators agreed that the 2022 budget of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), as well as its attached agencies, should be increased so that they could implement their mandate of providing decent and affordable housing to Filipinos, particularly the underprivileged.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon described the PHP6.39-billion budget allocation proposed by the Department of Budget and Management for the housing sector as “grossly inadequate” and called for measures to address it immediately.

“The real priorities in the national budget are so unheard of that the economic and social projects, like in housing, are totally ignored,” Drilon said. “We should support our housing sector, it is a multiplier for our economy,” the senator added.

Sen. Francis Tolentino III, who chairs the Senate Committee on Housing, on the other hand, also expressed support to increase the DHSUD’s budget for 2022.

“Naniniwala po ako na kailangan talagang dagdagan ang napakaliit, ika nga ni Senator Drilon, na budget ninyo. Kung tutuusin, hindi ko nga maisip kung papano ba ito maiuusad sa darating na 2022,” Sen. Tolentino stated.

“I reiterate the recommendation given by the Minority Leader (Drilon) and I support the passage of this measure to address the miniscule budget needed by Filipinos for housing, which is the first and last bastion as we control the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

Senator Hontiveros, for her part, likewise emphasized the need for the budget allocation for the housing sector to be raised for DHSUD to enforce and carry out regulations and programs meant to benefit Filipinos, particularly the urban poor.

“Acting on the motion of the minority leader joined by Sen. Tolentino, the budget of DHSUD with all the key shelter agencies is deemed submitted. See you in the plenary,” she said.

At the hearing, Secretary Del Rosario highlighted the accomplishments of DHSUD and its key shelter agencies, including the finalization of the 20-year national housing roadmap and the formation of a task force to run after real estate scammers.

The housing czar likewise cited that from 2016 to June 2021, DHSUD and its attached agencies were able to post an 84% accomplishment rate with regards to their housing production target under the Philippine Development Plan.

“For us in the housing sector, we consider shelter as a right of every Filipino family and it is our responsibility that low income families are capacitated to realize their dream of homeownership,” he stressed.

 The DHSUD chief likewise emphasized on the social impact of the housing sector, which he described as an economic pump-primer because of its ties with 80 industries, as well as its capacity to provide livelihood to millions of Filipinos.

Secretary Del Rosario bared that the country’s housing need currently stands at 6.5 million nationwide and will most likely to soar by next year, hence the need to increase the government’s budget allocation.

Since 2010, government allocation for the housing sector only stands at less than 1% of the national budget. For next year, the Department is proposing a PHP75.575-billion budget, but the recommended allotment by the Department of Budget and Management is only PHP6.39 billion.

According to the housing czar, DHSUD is advocating for the passage of the National Housing Production and Development Financing Act, which will ensure a PHP50-billion annual appropriation for the next 20 years to address the country’s rising housing need, as well as promote public housing development. (30) — CVC