SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go welcomes the Home Development Mutual Fund’s recent remarks expressing full support for the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program (BP2). At an online forum, Fund CEO Acmad Rizaldy Moti vowed that the agency, also known as Pag-IBIG Fund, would cover mortgages of low-income members so long as their private developer partners provide good quality low cost housing especially in the provinces.
“We will fully support the Balik Probinsya Program of the government. As we have assured our private developer partners, we will cover the mortgages taken by members [in the low income bracket] so long as they provide good quality low-cost housing especially in the provinces,” said Moti.
The BP2 was a suggestion from Senator Go to give Filipinos new hope for a better future after COVID-19. Last May 6, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order 114 institutionalizing the program. The issuance also created an inter-agency council that would craft and oversee the implementation of policies and programs. The BP2 aims in the long run to encourage residents of Metro Manila and businesses to settle and invest in regions outside the capital.
“I would like to thank Pag-IBIG for supporting the BP2 Program and their continuing commitment to the poorest members of our society,” said Go.
“With decent housing, many Filipino families and communities can live and prosper with dignity,” he added.
The BP2 Program is crucial in tackling the worsening conditions of the urban poor who are greatly affected during a pandemic. Go has repeatedly called attention to the plight of ISFs who he believes can be provided better opportunities outside Metro Manila.
“Para sa mga gustong umuwi ng probinsya, may nakahanda nang protocols ang gobyerno para siguraduhin na ligtas ang pagbyahe at hindi ito magdudulot ng lalong pagkalat ng sakit. May transportation assistance at transitory package na ipapamahagi,” said the Senator in a separate interview.
"Ang pangunahing layunin natin ay mabigyan sila ng mga oportunidad para umasenso, tulad ng maayos na trabaho, edukasyon, pabahay at suporta mula sa national at local government para makaahon sila sa kahirapan kung piliin nilang bumalik sa kanilang mga probinsya," he continued.
“Subalit, uunahin muna ng pamahalaan na makauwi sa probinsya ang mga stranded na hindi naman residente ng Metro Manila, katulad ng mga estudyante, OFWs at turista. Hindi ito kabilang sa BP2 program. Pagkatapos nito, saka magpapadala ulit ng mga beneficiaries ng BP2 program pabalik ng probinsya para makapagsimula muli na may pag-asa,” he added.
A survey conducted by the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor shows that many ISFs are willing to return to the provinces. As of May 30, 2020, almost 74,000 Filipinos have applied for the BP2 Program. The Commission foresees more ISFs applying once the program is fully implemented.
Presently, the Philippine housing demand outstrips supply. The Pag-IBIG fund has allotted P10 billion for low-cost housing projects in 2020.
In June 2019, Go filed the “National Housing Development, Production and Financing Act of 2019” which shall provide urban poor populations and informal settlers with decent homes as well as create a long-term socialized housing plan in the country.
The proposed law shall provide continuous funding support to implement the major components of the National Housing Development, Production and Financing Program even beyond the Duterte Administration.
The National Housing Authority will be tasked to develop and implement various housing programs intended for the bottom 30% of the income population, including housing programs for low-salaried government employees and calamity victims, land banking, resettlement, and settlement upgrading.
The draft legislation mandates the Social Housing Finance Corporation to develop and administer pertinent social housing programs, including programs that cater to the needs of both formal and informal sectors in the low-income bracket.
To encourage private sector participation in the program, relevant government agencies shall facilitate the release of the required housing-related permits, licenses, certifications and tax exemptions and rulings in accordance to the Ease of Doing Business Act.
“Hinahangad natin na wala nang maging squatter sa sariling bayan. Bigyan natin ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino ng isang maayos at disenteng bahay,” said Go. “Magtulungan tayo na magkaroon ng maganda at komportableng buhay ang bawat Pilipino at mabigyan sila ng bagong pag-asa pagkatapos ng krisis na dulot ng COVID-19.”