Lack of water, power hounds housing project for AFP/PNP
By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---Absence of water and power supply hound the housing projects of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) all over the country, an official of the National Housing Authority (NHA) said. Elsie Trinidad, spokesperson of the NHA, said the problem of the absence of the AFP/PNP housing project resulted in low occupancy rate of the finished housing projects which was a flagship program of former President Benigno Aquino III for the uniformed personnel through the issuance of Administrative Order Number 9 on June 11, 2011. Trinidad said the housing project with a P50B fund had been set aside under the General Appropriation Act, of which the NHA has received a total of P20.771B in Special Allotment Release Order (Saro) from the Department of Budget and Management as of June 25 this year. She said P16.110B has already been spent to finish 63,449 housing units which is 96 percent of the target of 66,434 housing units under former President Aquino’s flagship program for the AFP/PNP. When asked about the status of power and water connections in the completed housing units, Trinidad said all housing projects are in varying stages of connecting to the power distributors and local water districts. Trinidad said the housing project implementation is called community-initiated approach in which a community is built complete with streets, drainage and facilities. Representing the beneficiaries from the AFP and PNP is the AFP/PNP Housing Board that enters into agreement with developers of the AFP/PNP housing project, she said. “So, sa AFP, PNP ang tumatayong unit na community association nila is the AFP/PNP Housing Board. (in AFP and PNP the unit that stands for them (beneficiaries) is the AFP/PNP Housing Board.),” Trinidad said. She said the housing board, aside from entering into contract with developers, also determines the location of the housing projects. In Bicol, there is only one AFP/PNP housing project named Isarog Village which is located in Barangay Isarog, Pili, Camarines Sur, with 1,000 units. These units are reported to the NHA as fully completed and awarded to the beneficiaries with only 10 units occupied. Trinidad said the AFP/PNP housing project, which now included Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Corrections and the Bureau of Fire, must be accessible and within the coverage area of water utility and power distributor. She said the AFP/PNP Housing Board must not sign contracts with developers in places where the service of water utilities and power distributors are not readily available. Trinidad said it is very hard to convince water utilities to expand to areas not their coverage. “How about if the water utilities ask for capital investment to expand to the housing project?” She said the qualified beneficiaries are low-salaried personnel at the three lowest rank in their offices. Trinidad said the NHA provides the loan of the whole housing project which is reassigned from the beneficiaries to the developers chosen by the AFP/PNP Housing Board. She said some beneficiaries complained of the 22 sqm floor area of the house in 40-sqm lot area. “So, parati kami napupuna ang liit-liit. But we have a question of affordability. Pang ISF (informal settlers) yan e. Pang low salaried. If you give bigger lots, affordability is a question. Di bah? Hindi nila makakayanan yong amortization,” Trinidad said. She said it is the NHA that accepts the housing project from developers after their team has inspected “We are procuring completed house-and-lot unit. Ibig sabihin nun develop lots and build houses...yon ang prino-procure namin. Complete with drainage facility… in other words physical community…may kalsada…oo accessibility prescribed by our memo circular that sets the standard,” Trinidad said. She said there are two levels of acceptance in the turn-over of the project and the units. The first level is when the units had been inspected by the NHA and passed the standards and the second level is the acceptance of the end-users. Trinidad said the end-user has the right to reject the unit if it lacks water and electricity or if there are problems with the unit. She admitted that the NHA failed to monitor the decisions of the AFP/PNP Housing Board when the problems with power and water supply become constraint. Trinidad said they have learned the lesson and she vowed the NHA will aggressively monitor the developments and prevent locations where water and power supply are not readily available within three years.