Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wanted: Candidates for the solid 8 million UP-All vote

Urban Poor Positions

We, the Urban Poor Alliance (UP-All), a coalition of 800 urban poor NGOs and people’s organizations, ask candidates to sign their agreement to these urban poor positions and promise to work for their realization when elected. UP-All promises to distribute thousands of copies of the positions and signatures. The following positions are the same as those advanced by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in its February 8, 2007 “Statement on the Nation’s Housing Problem.”


Forced and Illegal Evictions. Thousands of poor families are evicted each year (40,000 plus in 2006) by Local Government Units and agencies, such as, Metro Manila Development Authority, National Housing Authority and the Department of Public Works and Highways. They regularly fail to provide any relocation, so the families are literally dumped in the street contrary to the Constitution (Art. 13, Sec. 9), our law (R.A. 7279) and international covenants the Philippines has signed that have the force of Philippine law.

We seek improvements in the law (R.A. 7279) but we realize good laws are not enough and require strong political will to achieve results. We ask your total involvement as legislators and advocates.

The following areas seem certain to be cleared of residents: C-5, R-10, North and South Rail, Pasig River (10-meter easement), and Esteros.

We ask our candidates:

a. To strengthen the laws governing evictions. Make the people’s right to relocation very clear. Also the law needs clarification on many points.

b. Punish those who put poor women, children and the aged in the streets. To date no official has been punished, though thousands of poor families have been evicted without relocation. This requires executive department action, but severe penalties can encourage observance of the law.

c. Guarantee decent, that is, in-city or near-city relocation to all evicted families. Cardinal Rosales has repeatedly asked government to be generous in interpreting deadlines and cut-off dates when deciding who are beneficiaries of relocation. All evicted poor families need relocation.

d. After the election immediately conduct hearings in Senate on the eviction problem.

e. Establish an Independent Commission to control illegal forced evictions. This commission, to be appointed by the president, must sign off on all evictions or the evictions are forced and illegal, and the people in charge are liable to punishment. It will have the power to issue subpoenas duces tecum. (See Appendix A)


The poor have a right to the city as citizens. Land and housing, therefore, must be found within the city. The following measures are steps in this direction:

· Triple the coverage of the Community Mortgage Program (from 13,000 families to 39,000).

· Upgrade and title all urban land proclaimed since 2001. This should include basic services (light, water, drainage, sanitation), lot assignment, and housing assistance. People will pay affordable monthly amortization.

· Continue urban land proclamations at a rate of about 50,000 families per year.

· Private landowners who have poor people living on their land should receive tax breaks if they grant the families long-term leases (10-15 years).

· A more basic solution to the high cost of urban land must be found during the first year of the next Congress. It can involve higher taxes on idle land and other proposals that have been suggested by experts for many years.


Basic Services

· Make it illegal for government or private land owner to deny right of way for water and light services to urban poor communities. To do so violates international law.

· Make it illegal for barangay officials to profit financially from light and water delivery.

· Installment fees cannot be paid all at once by most poor people. Extend payment over 18-24 months.

· Bring back the Depressed Area Electrification Program (DAEP).


Local Housing Boards

Require all cities and municipalities to have a functioning local Housing Boards.


Establish the Church-Government-Civil Society Planning Committee. As the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines did in its “Statement on the Nation’s Housing Problem”, January 28, 2007, we recommend the immediate creation of a government-Church-civil society commission that will provide guidelines for the further development of our cities, so that the urban poor will have a decent place to live and economic development will go hand in hand with social and environmental considerations. The said commissions in each city and town can immediately conduct consultations to discuss and resolve the issues on homelessness in a pro-active way. Planning of mass housing for the poor is a concern of public officials for the sake of the common good, and not only of property developers for their own profit.

· There may be a committee in every urban center.

· A duty of the Committee will be to review major infrastructure plans to guarantee the minimum number of poor people are evicted.

· Another duty will be to organize critical discussions of governmental urban plans, in order to achieve prosperity and social justice in the country. There is at present no such body with the result that our cities and towns are largely unplanned and present a challenge to decent living rather than a help.


Community Mortgage Program and the Social Housing Finance Corporation. The Community Mortgage Program (CMP) was designed to minimize if not prevent forcible evictions. The Social Housing Finance Corporation was a major advocacy campaign of the urban poor. However, the SHFC has fallen short of the goals people had for it. It is supposed to handle the Community Mortgage Program and other forms of housing programs and schemes. It has failed to expand the CMP or offer other services.

We recommend the scaling up of the CMP by adopting the localization scheme. The Localized CMP will enable LGUs to access funds from SHFC and relend to its urban poor communities. We also recommend the enactment of a special charter for the SHFC. (See draft bill in Appendix B)


Other Needs. Many urban poor people are hungry or cannot afford to purchase the World Health Organization’s minimum water needs, or lack legal electric connections, or send their children to deteriorating schools or lack money to buy medicines.

Based on President Ramon Magsaysay’s aphorism: “He who has less in life, should have more in law,” we suggest the position of Ombudsman for the urban poor be created. His or her job will be to see the poor get an even break and even extra help, which is called “affirmation action” in other countries.


Signatures of Candidates:


_____________________________ ______________________________



_____________________________ ______________________________



(Appendix A)

URBAN POOR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA:

1. BILL TO REMOVE THE CUT-OFF DATE OF THE UDHA (MARCH 1992)

· The conditions listed in the UDHA for the three-year demolition moratorium (beneficiary listing, urban lands inventory, resettlement plans) were not complied with;

· With an annual average population increase for urban areas of 5%, the number of urban poor not covered by the UDHA is a staggering ___________.
The cut-all date was arbitrary contingent on a number of things that should have been implemented but were not by government. Hence, it has become discriminatory against the urban poor who came in after March 1992 and rendering them vulnerable to various human rights violations whose only fault is being born poor. The CBCP statement on housing quotes the Pontifical Commission Justice and Peace on the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless: “Any person or family that, without any direct fault on his or her part, does not have suitable housing is the victim of an injustice.

· This violates the equal protection of law for all.

· This violates Philippine treaty obligations arising from its being a signatory of international treaties, such as, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, etc. which guarantee the enjoyment of housing rights for all.


2. Bill to disallow the use of the national building code, specifically, the non-compliance of securing a building permit, for the urban poor.

· Even during Martial Law, Minister Hipolito had already disallowed this with his memorandum order, saying that the national building code does not apply to urban poor housing.


3. Bill to set up an independent quasi judicial body with powers to monitor, investigate and to stop demolitions that do not comply with the law.

· Massive violations of the UDHA continue to take place with impunity. One recourse is to go to court, but this is expensive and time-consuming so that by the time the court acts, the case has become moot and academic.

· Another recourse was provided by Executive Order No. 152, but practice has shown it to be toothless. Many government agencies and LGUs simply ignored it and have not been called to account.

· This is based on the recommendation of the UN in 1995.


4. Bill to limit to the issues listed in Section 28 of the UDHA as basis for demolition and strict compliance with the steps listed in Section 28.

· Government agencies and LGUs, including private individuals, have been using reasons other than those listed in the UDHA to carry out demolitions, such as, violation of the National Building Cose, nuisance, and old decrees and instructions issued by former dictator Marcos.


5. Bill obliging government agencies and LGUs to conduct consultations on and to implement in-city or near-city.

· UDHA says where feasible relocation should be in-city. A process open to public participation should be undertaken to determine what sites are feasible, instead of limiting the decision making to a small group of government planners and politicians. Government budgets should include allocation to acquire/expropriate in-city lands for relocation.


(Appendix B)

AN ACT CREATING THE SOCIAL HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION, DEFINING THE POWERS AND DUTIES, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFORE, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in the Philippines in Congress assembled.

Section 1. Title. This Act shall be known as THE CHARTER OF THE SOCIAL
HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION OF THE YEAR 2004.

Section 2. Creation. There is hereby created a Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC), which shall be the primary agency providing end-buyers financing for the low-income group, including the informal sector of the economy. It shall also provide developmental financing to developers, provided that the funds are utilized for socialized housing programs and projects.

To achieve this objective, the administration and/ or trusteeship of the Community Mortgage Program and the Abot Kaya Pabahay Fund (amortization support program and developmental financing program) are transferred from the NHMFC to the SHFC.

Section 3. Domicile. The Corporation shall have its principal place of business in
Metro Manila, but may have branches and agencies in other places as may be
necessary for the proper conduct of business.

Section 4. Capitalization. The Corporation shall have an authorized capital of Fifteen Billion Pesos (P15,000,000,000.00), divided into Fifteen Million shares (P15,000,000) with a par value of One Thousand Pesos per share, to be subscribed and paid for by
the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. In addition to the cash infusion
of the Government, the properties of the present NHMFC which may be transferred
to the Corporation and the contributions of the Government to the Community
Mortgage Program, shall be exchanged for shares of stock to the Corporation and
shall represent the equity investment of the Government.

Section 5. Purposes of the Corporation. The purposes of the Corporation shall
be as follows:

(a) To provide end buyers’ financing to the low-income groups, including the informal sector of the economy; and
(b) To provide developmental financing for socialized housing programs and projects

Section 6. Powers and Functions. The corporation shall have the following powers and functions:

(a) To provide end buyers’ financing to the low-income groups, including the informal sector of the economy;

(b) To provide developmental financing for socialized
housing programs and projects

(c) To administer the Amortization Support and Development Financing Components of the Abot Kaya Pabahay Fund, created under RA 6846, as amended by RA 7835

(d) To administer the Community Mortgage Program and innovative ways to
expand the Program and make it more accessible to the low-income
groups;

(e) To support people’s initiatives for self-help and incremental housing;

(f) To borrow funds from domestic or foreign, private and public financial institutions, and subdivision and condominium developers;

(g) To own, lease, purchase or otherwise acquire, sell or otherwise dispose of property, real or personal, as may be necessary and appropriate for the
conduct of its business;

(h) To invest the funds or monies of the Corporation not needed for end-
buyers’ and developmental financing in government securities and/or
deposited in government banks to ensure its liquidity, safety and growth;

(i) To enter into and perform such contracts with any person or entity, public
or private. As may be necessary, proper and conducive to the attainment
or furtherance of the objectives and purposes of the Corporation;

(j) To adopt, alter and use a corporate seal; to sue and to be sued; and
generally, to exercise all the powers of a corporation under the
Corporation Code which are not inconsistent herewith; and

(k) To promulgate such rules and regulations and to do and perform any and
all acts as may be necessary and proper to carry out is responsibilities,
powers and functions under this Act.

Section 7. Borrowing Power. Subject to the prior approval of the Monetary Board of
the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the President of the Philippines, the
Corporation shall borrow from domestic and foreign private or public financial
institutions, and subidivision and condominium developers, such amount as may,
from time to time be required for its operations, or issue bonds, promissory notes, debentures, certificates of indebtedness, and other debt instruments in foreign
currency. No part of the proceeds of domestic and//or foreign borrowings shall be
used for operating expenses of the Corporation.

The bonds, promissory notes, debentures, certificates of indebtedness and
other debt instruments issued in local or foreign currency shall be at such interest rates, maturities and other terms and conditions as the Corporation may determine.
The debt instruments may be secured by the assets of the Corporation and shall be
fully exempt, both as to the principal and interest, from any and all taxes imposed by
the Government or any of its subdivision. The debt instruments shall be negotiable
and shall be unconditionally guaranteed as to the principal and interest by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, through the Home Guaranty Corporation, which guaranty shall be indicated on the face thereof.

A sinking fund is hereby created for the payment of the Corporation’s bonds issued under the provisions hereof in such manner that the total contribution thereto, accrued at such rate of interest as may be determined by the Secretary of Finance in consultation with the Monetary Board, shall be sufficient to redeem the bonds of maturity. The said fund shall be held in trust by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that shall have the power to:

(i) invest the same in such manner as the Monetary Board may approve;
(ii) charge all expenses of such investment to the said sinking fund; and,
(iii) credit the same with the interest on investments and other incomes
belonging to it.

A standby annual appropriation is hereby made out of any general funds in the National Treasury in such amount as may be necessary to provide for the sinking
Fund created herein and for the interest on bonds issued by the Corporation by
virtue hereof.

Section 8. Alternative Compliance to the Agri-Agra Law and Section 18 of the Urban Development and Housing Act. Subscription by banks of bonds and other
forms of indebtedness issued by the SHFC utilizing the portion of the Agri-Agra
Law, and R.A. 7835, otherwise known as the Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Financing Act, and their Implementing Rules and Regulations.

Likewise, purchase of subdivision and condominium developers of these debt
instrument issued by the SHFC, in the amount of twenty percent (20%) of the total subdivision or condominium project cost, shall be considered compliance of the requirement prescribed under Section 18 of R.A. 7279 and its Implementing Rules.

Section 9. Governing Body. The powers and functions of SHFC shall be governed
by a Board of Directors, as follows:

(a) The Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council
who shall be the Chairperson of the Board. Whenever the Chairman of
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council is unable to attend the
meeting of the Board, he/she shall designate the Secretary General as his
alternate, but who shall not act as Chairperson.

(b) The President of the Corporation, who shall be the Vice-Chairperson;

© The Secretary of the Department of Finance. Whenever, the Secretary of
Finance is unable to attend, he/she shall designate an Undersecretary or
any Assistant Secretary to act as alternate.

(d) The Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Whenever, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government is unable to
attend, he/she shall designate an Undersecretary or any Assistant Secretary to
act as alternate.

(e) The Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management. Whenever,
the Secretary of Budget and Management is unable to attend, he/she shall
designate an Undersecretary or any Assistant Secretary to act as alternate.

(f) Representative from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas designated by the BSP
Governor.

(g) Four (4) representatives from the non-government organization, to be
appointed by the President of the Republic of the Philippines.

The members of the Board shall receive a per diem and reasonable transportation
and representation, at par with other government financial institutions, as may be provided by the Board of Trustees and approved by the President of the
Philippines.

Section 10. Powers of the Board. The Board shall have the following powers:

(a) To formulate policies, rules and regulations to effectively carry out the functions of the SHFC under this Act;
(b) To direct the management, operations and administration of the SHFC;
© To authorize such expenditures by the SHFC in the interest of the
effective administration and operations and
(d) Upon recommendation of the President of the SHFC to appoint and fix
the remuneration and other emoluments of subordinate officers and
personnel of the SHFC, and to remove or otherwise discipline such
officers or employees for cause as may be provided by law.

Section 11. President. The Chief Executive Officer of the SHFC shall be the
President who shall be appointed by the President of the Republic of the Philippines
for a term of 6 years unless sooner removed for cause or by reason or incapacity. He must be of good moral character, responsible, of unquestionable integrity and probity and must be of recognized competence in any of the field of economics, banking, finance, commerce or industry.

Section 12. Powers and Duties of the President. The President shall have the
following powers:

(a) To prepare the agenda for the meetings of the board and to submit for consideration of the board, policies and measures which he believes are necessary to carry out the purposes and objectives of the SHFC;
(b) To execute and administer the policies and measures adopted by the
board; and
(c) To direct and supervise the operations and internal administration of the SHFC. He may delegate other administrative responsibilities to other executive officers of the SHFC subject to such rules and regulations promulgated by the Board, and to exercise such other powers as may be vested in him by the Board.

The salary of the President of the SHFC shall be fixed and determined by the Board of Directors as provided in Section 10 (d) hereof. The Board may authorize the payment of allowances and other emoluments to the President
of the Corporation.

Section 13. Appointment of Personnel. All other officers and employees of the
SHFC shall be appointed by the Board upon the recommendation of the President of
the SHFC.

Section 14. Auditor. The Chairman of the Commission on Audit shall act as the
ex-officio auditor of the SHFC and, as such, is empowered to appoint a
representative who shall act as the auditor of the corporation. He shall also appoint
the necessary personnel to assist said representatives in the performance of his duties.
The auditor of the SHFC and personnel under him may be removed only by the
Chairman of the Commission on Audit.

Section 15. Tax Exemption. Notwithstanding the provision of any general or
special law to the contrary, the SHFC, its properties and transaction except income
shall be exempted from the payment of all taxes, duties, fees and other charges including costs, service and filing fees, appeal bonds in any court in administrative proceedings.

Section 16. Separability Clause. If for any reason any section or provision of this
Act is declared to be unconstitutional or invalild, the other provision not affected
thereby shall continue in force and effect.

Section 17. Effectivity. This Act shall take effect after fifteen (15) days following
its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.


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