The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is moving to implement a housing project for agrarian-reform beneficiaries to boost poverty alleviation in the countryside, expanding or extending the form of support services the agency regularly provides according to its legal mandate.
The project, which has already been set in motion, is expected to raise legal issues.
Under Republic Act 6657 and RA 9700, the DAR is mandated to distribute land to the landless farmers and provide necessary support services for the farmers to sustain productivity.
On Wednesday Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones formally accepted two model units donated by Future Home Co. Ltd. (FHCL) to be used as display houses to show the living space and features of an affordable housing unit to be constructed by the DAR soon.
This will be the first time that the DAR will implement a housing project for agrarian-reform beneficiaries.
Housing programs of the government are implemented by key shelter agencies of the government that doesn’t include the DAR.
In a statement, Castriciones said he expects the agency’s housing project, which will be implemented under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, would “greatly improve the living conditions of farmer-beneficiaries in the country.”
“Most of our farmers and farmworkers are poor and does not own the house they live in. And even if they own it, most of their houses are dilapidated and needs repair,” Castriciones said. “Why? Because the farmers would rather use their money for farming and family expenses than use it for house repairs.”
He added that through this housing project, the agency expects “to achieve inclusive growth by uplifting the quality of lives of farmers and their families.” Castriciones said the livelihood and educational support programs “we will provide under our support services office” will backstop the effort.
According to Castriciones, Chinese investors are also involved. He justified the participation of FHCL, calling them “a staunch supporter of providing social housing for the displaced families of Typhoon Yolanda.”
The firm’s donation consisted of two units with two bedrooms (Duplex type), covering 37 square meters, and one greenhouse for lettuce hydroponics garden with an area of 24 sq m. The model units are located inside the DAR compound.
Undersecretary for Support Services Emily O. Padilla said two other model houses will be donated by FHCL in the following weeks. One will be located in the compound of the Nueva Vizcaya State University and another in San Leonardo Municipal Hall, Nueva Ecija.
Padilla said the housing program is “demand-driven” and the beneficiaries are free to choose their house design from the model houses, including model houses from other donors.
“The model houses in Nueva Vizcaya and Nueva Ecija will be on temporary display and will be visited and viewed by the beneficiaries,” Padilla said. “We want them to see the different designs so they can choose which house design would best suit their family.”
She added the model house in the DAR compound will be turned into a showroom, where products of the beneficiaries will also be displayed.
Housing is not the usual or conventional kind of support services the agency provides.
Sought for clarification, DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Luis M. Pangulayan told the BusinessMirror that under section 37 of the RA 6657 as amended, there is an enumeration of support services being provided by the DAR. The current leadership of the DAR, he said, views this as narrow or limited, admitting that housing is not included.
“Because under general provisions of law, for instance, under the Family Code, there are provisions in support under the Family Code, which states that support is anything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, transportation, education and medicine, etc.,” Pangulayan said.