The OSHDP Manifesto to solve the Philippine Housing Backlog

THE Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP) Inc., the leading national organization of mass housing developers, was recently in the Private Developers’ Consultation on the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) No. 11201 or the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).

At the onset, they reiterated the common objective of every bill filed and consolidated into the DHSUD Act and of every stakeholder and resource person invited during the Congressional deliberations—To solve the housing backlog.

Please allow us to lay down some inputs and principles that we find important to be included in the IRR.

1. Emphasis on the primary function and responsibility of the Department not only to resolve the country’s housing backlog but also to address the entire housing need

The Department, now clothed with enough powers and authority, and the secretary, now sitting in the Cabinet, would be primarily responsible for the country’s housing production.

While recent statistical data would show that the private sector produces significantly more than the government, we stress that housing provision remains a State function. 

This especially applies to the provision of socialized housing, which clearly is the government’s duty. The private sector is only encouraged to participate in this provision. Given this principle, the mandatory balanced housing requirement that the government imposes on the private sector should be liberally interpreted in favor of the latter. Socialized housing compliance is definitely not a corporate social responsibility, but a taxation, the adverse effects of which are supposedly compensated by the incentives.

Having said that, the private sector only hopes for fairness from our government in implementing the balanced housing requirement, considering that it has mandatorily foisted upon it this burden of carrying out what is supposedly a governmental function. Compelling the private sector to perform a governmental function and, at the same time, expecting that it would go through a difficult process and bear the losses in such a venture is only unjust and oppressive.

2. There should be a (1) Bureau of Policy, Program and Project Development, Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation; and (2) Bureau of Housing Production and Finance, Resettlement and Social Integration

While the law has identified three bureaus under Section 10 thereof, the Department is authorized under Section 11 to create, as it should, new divisions or units as may be necessary.

We propose the addition of the Bureau of Policy, Program and Project Development, Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation, which shall perform functions of both staff and line bureau under the Administrative Code of the Philippines. Therefore, it shall not only perform policy, program development and advisory functions, but also directly implement programs adopted pursuant to department policies and plans.

On the other hand, the Bureau of Housing Production and Finance, Resettlement and Social Integration shall provide special focus on: (a) scaling up housing production; (b) resolving issues on resettlement and social integration; and (c) developing public housing, rental and other tenurial arrangements.

The Bureau shall also formulate and implement housing finance and guarantee policies, expanding access to housing finance, pumping seed money for housing production and exploring means of securitization.

Finally, it shall put up an information-technology system to monitor housing starts, and include a targeting system of performance monitoring and evaluation, innovations and other housing options.

3. Private-sector representation to the Human Settlements Board

The better way to encourage private-sector participation in housing-development programs is by involving the sector in the policy and program formulation and implementation, even so in the monitoring and evaluation. Moreover, the government may benefit from expert inputs to be contributed by the private sector and from their best practices that can be replicated.

For this purpose, OSHDP proposes inclusion of two  private-sector representatives (PSR) to the Human Settlements Board along with the government officials identified under Chapter V, Section 21, of the law.

 Private sector representation worked well with the department’s predecessor—the HUDCC—and other government agencies. PSRs are what make these agencies effective and dynamic. This is so because PSRs are usually elected/appointed from the NGOs and civil society. Certainly, PSRs are beyond the reach of partisan politics.

4. Institutionalizing the Housing Policy Working Committee (HPWC) as a Mandatory Consultative Mechanism

Besides the sunset review of the law to be conducted by Congress at the end of the third year of effectivity (Section 32), we suggest to institutionalize formation of the HPWC and the conduct of its meetings regularly, where the private sector is well represented. The HPWC would be convened to help in the formulation of implementing guidelines of the programs and policies of the department, as well as in making recommendations to Congress as to whether the programs and their corresponding appropriations should be continued. The HPWC shall be formed as a mandatory consultative mechanism to ensure the involvement of affected sectors and other stakeholders from the local to the national level.

5. Establishing Housing One-Stop Processing Centers (HOPCs) and Socialized Housing (SoHo) Express Lanes

The housing backlog of the country has tremendously increased from 3.5 million in 2010 to 5.5 million in 2016. The same is projected to reach 6.7 million by the year 2022 at the current pace of production and housing-needs growth. Streamlining the bureaucratic processes for the issuance of housing-related certifications, clearances and permits has been identified as crucial in spurring housing production, enhancing affordability, providing easy financing access and improving the regulatory environment; Chapter VII, Section 23, of the law provides for the establishment of the Housing One-Stop Processing Centers. In fact, the same is not a new concept considering that it is already present under Section 2(c) of Republic Act No. 10884, otherwise known as “The Balanced Housing Development Program Amendments,” and Section 20 of Republic Act No. 7279, or the “Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992,” which is mandated as an incentive for the private sector to encourage its greater participation in socialized housing and to further reduce the cost of housing units for the benefit of the underprivileged and homeless.

 OSHDP proposes not only the clear guidelines in the establishment of HOPCs but also the provision for Socialized Housing Express Lanes in different regions of the country for the processing, approval and issuance of clearances, permits and licenses. Specifically, these HOPCs and SoHo Express Lanes must (a) require government agencies to provide “express lanes” for application and processing of socialized housing development in compliance with RA 10884;  (b) reiterate the policy and guidelines to fast-track housing projects under Executive Order No. 45, Series of 2001, “PRESCRIBING TIME PERIODS FOR ISSUANCE OF HOUSING RELATED CERTIFICATIONS, CLEARANCES AND PERMITS, AND IMPOSING SANCTIONS FOR FAILURE TO OBSERVE THE SAME”; (c) Expand the covered agencies of Executive Order No. 45 to those into housing finance, including but not limited to Home Development Mutual Fund, Social Housing Finance Corp. and National Home Mortgage Finance Corp.; and (d) Consistent with the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act (Republic Act No. 11032), all applications relative to processing of socialized housing development not acted upon within the prescribed processing time shall be deemed approved.

We see this proposal as a focused solution to immediately address the impending decline in the production of socialized housing for the next two years, owing to the recent statistical trends we are now seeing.

6. Resolving possible conflict between central and local governments

While the new law provides that DHSUD shall act as the primary entity responsible for the management of housing, human settlement and urban development, local government units (LGU) share the same function under the Local Government Code. Possible conflict of jurisdictions must be resolved, while areas of collaboration must be identified in the IRR.

The same issues must be resolved with respect to possible overlap in the in the exercise of the regulatory powers of the DHSUD and the LGUs, i.e., permitting like issuance of development permits, potential conflict in zoning and land-use planning, etc.

7. The transition shall not cause interruption to transactions by the transacting public to the regulatory agency

Section 26 of the law provides for the six-month transition period, whereby existing personnel shall continue to assume their posts in holdover capacities. Likewise, all applications for permits and licenses shall continue to be acted upon by the incumbents.

However, the organization has already been receiving reports from its members of delays and inaction with regard to their permits and license applications, i.e., license to sell applications. This is what we seek to prevent.

OSHDP proposes detailed provisions as to operational concerns of the transacting public with the HLURB. The cut-off and approval periods, standards, rules and regulations, etc., to be observed during the transition must be clearly defined.


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