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MANILA – Administration Senator Francis Tolentino is seeking the realignment of all allocations of various government agencies pertaining to housing and resettlement to the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).

During Wednesday’s budget hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance, Tolentino underscored the earnest need to allot more funds to DHSUD since the house serves as the “first line of defense” against COVID-19.

Despite the expected increase of 6.57 million units in housing backlog by 2022, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only allocated P3.683 billion to DHSUD, or just 4.7 percent of DHSUD’s original proposed budget of P77.060 billion for 2021.

The housing department’s P3.683 budget represents just 0.8 percent of the national budget for next year.

“It has been stressed over and over that the first line of defense against COVID-19 is your house. But how can Filipinos shelter in place during a lockdown if we don’t have a house of our own? How can the government implement a massive housing program if the department doesn’t have an adequate housing budget? We really need more funds for the DHSUD,” said Tolentino.

Tolentino advised Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario to be more proactive and ask other government agencies to voluntarily consent to the transfer of their respective housing and resettlement appropriations to DHSUD before the Senate proceeds with its plenary deliberations on the 2021 national budget next month.

According to Tolentino, Section 7 (G) of Republic Act No. 11201 empowers the Housing Secretary to coordinate with other government agencies to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the housing and urban development programs.

Tolentino stressed that Del Rosario should act and exercise his prerogative as the head of DHSUD to pursue the reallocation of housing budgets placed in other government agencies such as the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to his department.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon likewise threw his support for Tolentino’s proposal, saying that Del Rosario should go “one step further” and pursue the transfer of housing budgets currently allocated to other government agencies to DHSUD. (JCC)

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