Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday suggested the use “excess fats” in the proposed P3.77 trillion 2018 national budget to address the 1.2 million housing backlog in the country.
The proposed P4.4 billion housing fund in 2018 is 70 percent lower than its P15.3 billion budget in 2017.
During the hearing for the budget of the housing sector, Drilon described the decrease in the budget as an “injustice” to the housing sector.
The senator also stressed that budgetary aid is crucial in addressing “the poorest sector of our society” and the budget cut is the “wrong policy thrust.”
“This is criminal neglect if we look at the budget of the housing sector,” Drilon said.
“Social problems will just continue to worsen if we continue to commit criminal neglect in our treatment of the housing sector,” he added.
Senator JV Ejercito, a sponsor of the budget of the National Housing Authority (NHA), said that the decrease in the budget can be attributed to the agency’s supposed absorptive capacity, as proposed by the Department of Budget and Management in the 2018 national budget.
Drilon, in response, said that the absorptive capacity of the NHA is being blamed to the refusal by the economic managers to provide sufficient budget for the housing sector.
“We should not let our people suffer from these alleged inefficiencies of a bureaucracy, which is even open to question,” Drilon added.
Refuting to assertions that the agency has a low absorptive capacity, Ejercito then cited a record that NHA has obligated 85% of its funds in 2016.
Ejercito added that housing backlog is anticipated to reach six million by 2022.
Drilon then asked for the committee and the chamber to restore the proposed budget of the housing sector for next year to its current level.
“With that kind of backlog, why are we not providing enough resources to our housing sector?”, Drilon added.
The minority leader said funds can be obtained from the “excess fats” and unproductive items in the proposed 2018 budget, using for example the budget for intelligence funds which amounts to P3.7 billion according to the senator.
Drilon also highlighted the importance of housing as an economic tool, which has the highest multiplier effect on the economy.
“Sa bawat piso na gagastusin sa pabahay, pitong piso ang balik nito sa ekonomiya [In every peso that will be spent in housing, seven pesos will be returned to the economy],” Drilon said.
“From the social point of view, housing is very important. From the economic point of view, it is very beneficial,” he added.
Drilon also filed Senate Bill 232 that seeks to create the Department of Housing and Urban Development, intended to be a “one stop shop for the homeless.”