Proposed Senate Bill 2020-1 (Urban Land Reform Act/Homes for Every Filipino Act/Batas sa Pabahay para sa Lahat)

Senate Bill 2020-1 (Urban Land Reform Act/Homes for Every Filipino Act/Batas sa Pabahay para sa Lahat)

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING URBAN LAND REFORM TO PROVIDE HOMES FOR EVERY FILIPINO

Proposed by David Michael M. San Juan

Explanatory Note

Homelessness has always been a problem for the Philippines. It was in this context that ARTICLE XIII (SOCIAL JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS), Section 9 (URBAN LAND REFORM AND HOUSING) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution was crafted:  “The State shall, by law, and for the common good, undertake, in cooperation with the private sector, a continuing program of urban land reform and housing which will make available at affordable cost, decent housing and basic services to underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban centers and resettlement areas…” (emphasis supplied).

Post-Edsa I, fast forward to 2020, no meaningful and comprehensive urban land reform law has been passed (or filed in Senate, in fact). Existing laws (Urban Development and Housing Act/UDHA of 1992) and filed bills in Congress (e.g. House Bill No. 159 filed during the 1st Regular Session of the 18th Congress in July 1, 2019) are either unable (or not radical enough) to solve the problem. Consequently,  homelessness is still a big problem in the Philippines today, as proven by the oft-quoted statistics on the number of homeless Filipinos which stands at 4.5 million (The Borgen Project, 2020; Chandran, 2018; Jena, 2020; Santos, 2020; Balanza, 2019;  Kadamay/Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap/National Alliance of Filipino Urban Poor, 2017; Lucenio, 2020; Senate of the Philippines, 2019; Elao, 2020). 

According to the Results of the 2015 Census of Population (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2018) – the latest available, as the 2020 census is still on-going – only 55.3% of Philippine households own their house and lot or have an “owner-like possession” of such, while 12.1% of households  rent their house/room including lot. In contrast, 90.4% of Singaporean households own their homes (Singapore Department of Statistics, 2019).

This proposed landmark legislation will thus bring Philippine home ownership closer to desirable Singaporean standards, through a meaningful and comprehensive urban land reform law.

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

SECTION 1. Short Title. This act shall be known and cited by its short title “Homes for Every Filipino Act of 2020.”

SECTION 2. Declaration of State Policy. Urban land reform towards home ownership for every Filipino, as a state policy enshrined in ARTICLE XIII (SOCIAL JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS), Section 9 (URBAN LAND REFORM AND HOUSING) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution is hereby reiterated and implemented:  “The State shall, by law, and for the common good, undertake, in cooperation with the private sector, a continuing program of urban land reform and housing which will make available at affordable cost, decent housing and basic services to underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban centers and resettlement areas…”

SECTION 3. Coverage. This Act shall cover all corporate-owned residential buildings and residential subdivisions and similar estates, all corporate-owned and privately-owned idle lands in urban areas, and public lands suitable for housing development.

SECTION 4. Decorporatization and Decommodification of Housing. This Act hereby de-corporatizes and decommodifies housing in the Philippines by banning big real estate firms from owning residential buildings and residential subdivisions and the like, and automatically transferring the rights and ownership to the said estates to the government, for the purpose of urban land reform directed towards achieving mass home ownership.

SECTION 5. Compensation for Real Estate Firms. The Central Bank is hereby authorized to compensate all affected real estate firms, at a reasonable rate and schedule to be determined, in the implementing rules and regulations of this Act.

SECTION 6. Limitation on Owning Idle Lands. Any corporation or individual is hereby authorized to retain only up to 500 square meters of idle land at any given city. Idle lands beyond such retention limit will automatically revert to public ownership.

SECTION 7. Compensation for Idle Lands Beyond the Retention Limit. The Central Bank is hereby authorized to compensate all affected real estate firms and individuals, at a reasonable rate and schedule to be determined, in the implementing rules and regulations of this Act.

SECTION 8. Interest-Free Loans to Develop Idle Lands Within the Retention Limit for Individuals. The Development Bank of the Philippines is hereby authorized to offer medium-term, interest-free loans to individuals who would like to develop idle lands within the retention limit, for family and/or charitable housing projects, to encourage utilization of idle lands.

SECTION 9.   Selling of Units from Decorporatized and Decommodified Residential Buildings and Subdivisions. Home Development Mutual Fund/HMDF/Pag-ibig Fund is hereby authorized to sell all units from decorporatized and decommodified residential buildings and subdivisions to HMDF members, via its loan facility.

SECTION 10. Full Subsidy for Equity/Downpayment for Decorporatized and Decommodified Residential Buildings and Subdivisions. Subject to the IRR of this law, HMDF is authorized to develop a program to fully subsidize equity/downpayment of HMDF members who would want to avail of such benefit.

SECTION 11. Affordability of Housing Price and Loans. HDMF is hereby ordered to ensure that all residential units to be sold under this Act, are made affordable for the average Filipino family. Furthermore, HDMF is hereby required to always offer a below-the-market interest rate for housing loans under this Act.

SECTION 12. Establishment of the Philippine Home Development Bank. The Central Bank is hereby ordered to help the HDMF is establishing the Philippine Home Development Bank that will specialize in financing small-scale, community-managed housing projects to be led by urban poor organizations, in idle lands beyond the retention limit.

SECTION 13. Universal Membership in HDMF. The HDMF is hereby authorized to craft a feasible plan towards achieving universal membership of working-age Filipino citizens in HDMF, subject to the law’s IRR.

SECTION 14. Implementing Rules and Regulations. The Department of Human Settlements, in coordination with housing rights NGOs and urban poor organizations, HDMF and Central Bank will draft and release the implementing rules and regulations of this Act, not later than 3 months from its effectivity.

SECTION 15. Separability Clause. In case any provision in this Act shall be invalid, illegal or unenforceable, the validity, legality and enforceability of the remaining provisions shall not in any way be affected or impaired thereby.

SECTION 16. Repealing Clause.  All laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, rules and regulations, and other issuances, or parts thereof which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

SECTION 17. Effectivity Clause. This Act shall take effect upon its publication in at least two (2) national newspapers of general circulation.

APPROVED.

References:

Chandran, Rina. 2018. “Manila’s homeless set to move into more empty homes if official handover delayed.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-landrights-lawmaking/manilas-homeless-set-to-move-into-more-empty-homes-if-official-handover-delayed-idUSKBN1H41L7

Ellao, Janess Ann. 2020. “#COVID19Quarantine | Urban poor group reminds gov’t 4.5M Filipinos don’t have a home.” https://www.bulatlat.com/2020/03/17/covid19quarantine-urban-poor-group-reminds-govt-4-5m-filipinos-dont-have-a-home/ 

Jena, Sujata. 2020. “A Journey with the homeless.” https://www.globalsistersreport.org/news/journey-homeless

Senate of the Philippines. 2020. “ANGARA: ACTION MUST BE TAKEN TO AVERT HOUSING CRISIS.” https://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2019/0331_angara1.asp

Santos, Ana. 2020. “Poverty punished as Philippines gets tough in virus pandemic.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/poverty-punished-philippines-tough-virus-pandemic-200413063921536.html

The Borgen Project. 2020. “THE STATE OF HOMELESSNESS IN THE PHILIPPINES.” https://borgenproject.org/homelessness-in-the-philippines/

Balanza, Roger. 2019. “Day of the homeless poor.” https://www.pna.gov.ph/opinion/pieces/230-day-of-the-homeless-poor-

KADAMAY. 2017. “Claiming Housing Rights.” https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Housing/HousingStrategies/KadamayPhillippines.docx

Philippine Statistics Authority. 2018. “Housing Characteristics in the Philippines (Results of the 2015 Census of Population).” https://psa.gov.ph/population-and-housing/node/129804

Singapore Department of Statistics. 2019. “Households.” https://www.singstat.gov.sg/find-data/search-by-theme/households/households/latest-data

Belmonte, Jose Christopher. 2019. “House Bill 159.” http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_18/HB00159.pdf

 

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