House body settles dispute on SMDRP

THE House committee on housing and urban development chaired by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez on Monday successfully settled the dispute among the National Housing Authority (NHA), R-II Builders, Inc. (RBI), and the Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC) regarding the Smokey Mountain Development and Reclamation Project (SMDRP).

As reported during past hearings conducted by the ADHOC committee headed by Quezon City Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo, the RBI, NHA, and HGC participated in mediation proceedings before the Court of Appeals upon a directive to explore the possibility of an amicable settlement to resolve allissues surrounding the SMDRP.

Benitez said through the intercession of the House of Representatives, the parties agreed to enter into a compromise agreement in the settlement of issues, including those which were pending in the Court of Appeals.

One particular issue was the recognition of the NHA of its total obligation amounting to P1.473 billion to RBI and its chairman agreeing to reduce the total obligation to P1.123 billion until its full payment. The NHA further agreed to turnover to RBI an initial five-hectare property within the Vitas Reclamation Area in Tondo, Manila.

The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) played a major role in the amicable settlement which all the parties concerned believe would finally be negotiated upon the settlement of smaller issues.

Benitez commended the agencies involved in the Smokey Mountain project for agreeing to the amicable settlement especially in expediting settlement of financial obligation issues among the parties involved.

He expressed hoped that such dispute will not be crop up in the future which may again need congressional intercession. The committee decided to terminate its oversight review of the SMDRP dispute.