SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Low-cost socialized housing may be right around the corner as the House Committee on Urban Housing and Development chaired by Rep. Alfredo Benitez (3rd District, Negros Occidental) began on Wednesday its deliberations on a bill seeking to establish a unified housing and urban development fund and a centralized home financing program.
Principally authored by former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, House Bill 4886 seeks to amend Republic Act 7835 or the Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Financing Act (CISFA) of 1994 to make long-term and affordable financing for housing purposes finally accessible for the millions of qualified low-income earners.
In her explanatory note of the bill, Speaker Arroyo said effective global development models prove that long-term and cheap sources of funds for housing remain an important key in government’s provision of homes for its people.
“However, the country’s perennially-increasing housing backlog estimated at 5.5 million dwelling units as of 2014 indicate that government efforts have fallen short in addressing the problematic housing situation – an issue that heavily impacts on the economic and social development of the country,” Speaker Arroyo said.
She explained that HB 4886 seeks to amend key provisions of Republic Act 7835 or the Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Finance Act (CISFA) of 1994, to establish among others, a secondary mortgage market system to make long-term and affordable financing for housing purposes finally accessible for the millions of qualified low-income earners in need of a home even if they are not members of the Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System, or the PAG-IBIG .
Moreover, it aims to establish a Centralized Home Financing Program that will be sourced out by tapping key fund sources that have already been identified by law, among them: RA 7835 or CISFA; RA 8282 or the amended SSS Charter; RA 8291 or the amended GSIS Charter; and RA 9679 or the new PAG-IBIG Fund Charter.
“The CHFP shall be designed exclusively for home financing assistance to individual loan home borrowers with no component for development financing. It shall likewise provide emphasis on socialized and low-income beneficiaries with funding and lending mechanisms designed to ensure continuing viability, stability and sustainability,” said Speaker Arroyo.
The bill adds four new sections into RA 7835: 1) Section 12, Establishment of a Unified Housing and Urban Development Fund; 2) Section 13, Establishment of a Centralized Home Financing Program (CHFP); 3) Section 14, Implementation of the CHFP—Loans Program; and 4) Section 15, Implementation of the Securitization, Capital and Secondary Market Operations Program (CHFP-Securitization).
During the hearing, guest resource persons generally welcomed the bill and expressed support for it. Queries raised were usually about the implementation and management of the proposed Unified Housing and Urban Development Fund.
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Director Angelito Aguila voiced support for the bill.
"This will improve operational efficiency and prevent operational redundancies, standardize policies, processes, and procedures for all direct housing cooperations. This will also facilitate timely approvals and lower administrative costs as this will be implemented by the program through the PAG-IBIG Fund," Aguila explained.
Reina Cuarez, Executive Assistant to the National Treasurer, proposed that the bill change reference to the Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC) as Philippine Guarantee Corporation (PHILGUARANTEE) in line with Executive Order 58 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 2018 that consolidated state guarantee firms into a single entity.
SSS Housing and Business Loans Department Manager Marie Ada De Silva noted that the bill frames the contribution of the SSS to the CHFP funding as an investment. Therefore, the CHFP must pass some SSS guidelines.
"The mechanism here is slightly different from the original UHLP (Unified Home Lending Program) inasmuch as that was considered a loan to the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), whereas this one is a form of investment. As such, it will have to be evaluated in terms of the investment guidelines that we have internally in the SSS. This means there has to be some hurdle rates that we have to pass," De Silva said.
De Silva further explained that the SSS must see a return on its investment.
"SSS being responsible for the funds or contribution of our members, we are obligated to ensure na babalik 'yung pera, tapos 'yung pera will serve to increase or grow the fund so it will be able to finance the social security benefits of our members. As an investment, the P5 billion a year that is cited here, tingin namin kakayanin pero of course dapat sana maconsider rin yung yield or yung return as an investment to SSS," she said.
Marcelino Mendoza, National President of the Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP), was also supportive of the measure and called for the grant of non-interest loans.
"For the new bill we are very supportive of the portions that would come from non-limit to interest rates. If possible, non-interest loans should be given to socialized housing because 'yung principal mahirap na mabayaran, lalagyan pa natin ng interest," Mendoza said.
He also expressed hope that the panel will consider other sources of funding that do not need to rely on returns to their investment to the CHFP funding.
"Mas gusto namin sana, for this bill to be really operational, that we have sources that are not limited by yields on their investments which is basically maybe government funds or the non-utilized portion of the agri-agra, the PCSO, maybe the lotto. Because in a way, this is flowing back to the socialized housing sector which is really the government's mandate," Mendoza said.
The meeting was also attended by Reps. Alberto Ungab, Michael John Duavit, Arlene Brosas, Joseph Stephen Paduano, Mark Go, Tom Villarin, Edgar Erice, and Winston Castelo. | Czarina Engracia/Rowena B. Bundang