Bong Go refiles bill providing rental subsidies to homeless Filipinos

FILE PHOTO: In this photo taken on December 8, 2020, street dwellers queue up for free food distributed by Catholic religious order Society of the Divine Word (SVD) in Manila. (Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines — A bill seeking to provide homeless Filipinos, including disaster victims, with rental subsidies through a housing and social protection program has been refiled in the Senate especially as several calamities continue to displace families from their homes.

Senator Bong Go on Monday said he refiled his Rental Housing Subsidy bill which, he said, would provide adequate, sustainable, and habitable shelter for homeless Filipinos who have been displaced by natural or man-made disasters, and families who cannot afford or build their own homes.

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“Sa pag-iikot ko ng bansa, nakita ko po kung gaano kahirap sa ating mga kababayang tinamaan ng bagyo o kaya naman pagputok ng bulkan ang makakuha ulit ng kanilang matitirhan. Kung nais po talaga natin mabigyan ng komportableng buhay ang bawat isa, bigyan natin sila ng komportable at ligtas na pabahay,” Go said in a statement.

(Traveling across the country, I saw how difficult it is for our fellow countrymen who were affected by typhoons or volcanic eruptions to buy a new house. If we really want to give each one of them a comfortable life, we must give them comfortable and secured housing.)

“Nakita po natin sa datos na milyun-milyong Pilipino ang walang natutulugan tuwing gabi. Mga kapwa kong senador, lakasan pa po natin ang ating suporta upang maiahon natin ang ating mga kapwa Pilipino mula sa mga krisis na ating kinakaharap,” he further said.

(I saw data that millions of Filipinos don’t have shelter to sleep under every night. My fellow senators, let us strengthen our support to lift our fellow Filipinos from the crises they face.)

Under the bill, a housing and social protection program will be developed that will provide disaster victims better and more affordable access to the formal housing market through the provision of rental subsidies provided by the government.

The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) will determine the amount of rental subsidy, which will consider the eligible beneficiaries’ prevailing rental rates in their respective locality, as well as their economic standing and potential of their family.

The subsidy will be granted to beneficiaries for a maximum of five years or upon their acquisition of permanent housing.

The National Housing Authority will likewise be tasked to certify the eligibility of beneficiaries under the program and coordinate with other agencies to identify persons who need immediate resettlement, according to the measure.

“Ngayon na nasa gitna tayo ng pandemya, lumalala ang kalagayan nila. Madalas, mas takot pa ang mga kababayan natin na mawalan ng matitirahan kaysa magkaroon ng COVID-19. Hindi ito tama kaya ipaglalaban ko na magkaroon ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino ng isang maayos at disenteng bahay,” Go said.

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(Now that we are in the middle of the pandemic, their state is worsening. Usually, our fellow countrymen are more afraid of losing their homes instead of getting the COVID-19 virus. This is not right so I will fight for a proper and decent house for every Filipino family.)

“Dapat po magkaroon ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino ng isang maayos at disenteng tirahan. Pangako po naming dalawa ni dating Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte, na bigyan ng mas maginhawang buhay ang bawat Pilipino, lalung-lalo na po ang mga mahihirap,” Go said.

(Every Filipino family should have a proper and decent house. That is the promise former President Rodrigo Duterte and I made, to give every Filipino family a comfortable life, especially the poor.)

“Wala na dapat maging squatter sa sariling bayan,” he added.

(There should not be squatters in our own country.)

Balik Probinsya program

Meanwhile, Go also urged the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to continue the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program, a long-term plan of the government to decongest urban areas, boost countryside development, and improve the quality of life in all regions.

“Ako naman po ay hinihikayat ko po ang bagong administrasyon na ipagpatuloy po ‘yung Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa program po based on Executive Order po ito ni dating Pangulong Duterte,” the senator said.