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A welcome appointment

THE housing problem in the country may not be as critical or as urgent as the energy problem or the transportation and traffic problem, but it is of utmost importance to the poorer sectors of the Philippine population many of whom continue to exist today as squatters in their own land.

As early as 1992, plans for socialized housing projects were drawn up in the Urban Development and Housing Act, RA 7279. It called for the building of low-cost homes for underprivileged and homeless citizens by the government and the private sector.

A Philippine Housing Industry Plan drawn up in 2012 by the private sector put the housing backlog at 3.9 million. It was estimated to reach 6.5 million units by 2030. The projected need was for 1.4 million government-subsidized housing units, 1.5 million for socializing housing, 2.5 million for economic housing, and 605,692 for low-cost housing.

It is in the subsidized housing program for the poor where Vice President Leni Robredo will be involved as the new chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC). President Duterte called her last Thursday to offer her the post and she immediately accepted.

Her appointment to the cabinet was widely welcomed not only as it harnesses her ability as an executive, but also stands out as a sign of the strengthening unity in government following the dissension and conflict of the election.

As Sen. Panfilo Lacson – one of those who urged President Duterte to make use of her talent and motivation to serve – pointed out a week ago, she could help him carry out needed changes to improve the lives of the people.

Robredo will be the housing czar in the new administration, the same position occupied by Vice President Jejomar Binay in the Aquino administration. Binay and Aquino belonged to different political parties, but that did not keep them from working together on housing as well as on the concerns of overseas Filipino workers.

We join in welcoming her appointment, confident that housing for the poor in our country will be boosted by her work in the HUDCC. And we welcome President Duterte’s reaching out to her as the leading figure of the political opposition today, so that together they can do so much more for our people.