Where did P11-B DAP for urban poor housing go?

July 25, 2014

Houses in off-city relocation sites--where most of the DAP for housing went--are substandard. In Rodriguez, Rizal, several houses had their roofs blown away during typhoon Glenda. Ilang-Ilang Quijano

Houses in off-city relocation sites, where DAP funds for housing may have been spent, are substandard. In Rodriguez, Rizal, several houses had their roofs blown away during typhoon Glenda. Ilang-Ilang Quijano

Urban poor residents in Metro Manila and off-city relocation sites are questioning where the billions of pesos in Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds meant for their housing went—and it seems like they have every reason to.

Former residents of Sitio San Roque, North Triangle, Quezon City today staged a protest at the National Housing Authority (NHA) office in Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal to demand where the the P450 Million supposedly allocated for them under the DAP went.

Among the list of DAP projects released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) last July 14 was a P450-M resettlement program for 10,000 North Triangle residents affected by the establishment of a business district in QC.

These funds, which supposedly went to the construction of medium-rise buildings (MRB) in Camarin, Caloocan City for the residents, were released to the NHA in 2011.

Jennie Espacio, a former leader in North Triangle and now a relocatee in Southville village, Brgy. San Isidro in Montalban, however, said that most of the residents were relocated by the government not to Caloocan, but to off-city relocation sites.

Kasuklam-suklam ang paglilihim ng gobyerno na may P450-M pala para sa in-city housing ng mga residente ng Sitio San Roque. Karamihan sa mga nabiktima ng demolisyon simula 2010 ay itinapon ng gobyerno sa malalayong pabahay at ngayo’y naghihirap dahil sa kawalan ng batayang mga serbisyo at hanapbuhay sa relokasyon (It is revolting that the government hid from us the fact that there is P450-M for in-city housing of residents of North Triangle. Most of the victims of demolition since 2010 are now suffering from lack of services and jobs in far-off relocation sites),” Espacio said.

She further revealed that they only received meager financial assistance from the NHA. “Hanggang ngayon, hindi pa rin naibibigay sa amin ang ipinangako ng NHA na P1,000 piso kada pamilya na karagdagan sa P5,000 financial assistance (Until now, we have not yet received the P1,000 per family promised to us in addition to the initial P5,000 financial assistance),” Espacio added.

DBM's list of DAP projects for the National Housing Authority.

DBM’s list of DAP projects for the National Housing Authority.

Conflicting, vague data on accomplishments

Citing data from the Quezon City government, the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) said that majority, or 6,500 of the 10,000 families in North Triangle, were moved to off-city relocation sites in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan and Rodriguez, Rizal.

The group further said that like the North Triangle residents, most informal settlers living in so-called “danger zones” in Metro Manila were moved to off-city relocation sites, and not to in-city MRBs that were supposedly funded by DAP.

In the July 14 DBM list, P10 Billion was released to the NHA for the “On-Site Development for Families Living in Dangerous Areas” in 2011. The description read, “The NHA will construct in-city medium-rise buildings to provide shelter for about 20,000 ISFs (informal settler families) living in dangerous zones in the NCR.” This lump sum is among the biggest items in the DAP.

Recently, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Mar Roxas boasted that P10-B from the DAP has already been spent successfully in relocating informal settlers living in danger zones.

But his statement raised questions from the opposition party United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). Toby Tiangco, UNA secretary general, pointed out that the DILG may have also received DAP funds for housing, on top of the agency’s budget of P1.2-B for the same purpose. Tiangco claimed that Roxas, who many believe will be Liberal Party’s presidential bet in the 2016 elections, is using funds for informal settlers to boost his presidential bid.

According to the 2014 General Appropriations Act, the DILG, under “Special Provisions,” has a budget of P1,244,606,000 for the “Housing Program for ISFs Residing in Danger Areas Within Metro Manila.” Of this amount, P700 Million is for the Construction of Micro-Medium-Rise Buildings” and P544,606,000 is for an “Interim Shelter Fund for 40,000 Target Families.”

Uurban poor residents, meanwhile, do not believe that the Aquino administration has spent P10-B for their relocation and housing needs.

Imposibleng magastos ang P10-B para sa pabahay lamang ng mga maralita, lalo pa at kalakhan sa mga naipatayong pabahay ng gobyerno ay matatagpuan sa mga off-city relocation sites na substandard at tinipid ang pagpapatayo (It is impossible that the P10-B has been spent on housing for the poor, especially since the majority is in off-city relocation sites and are substandard or made with cheap materials),” said Gina Bola, spokesperson of Montalban Relocatees Alliance (MRA).

A DBM statement in December 2013 reveals that only 6,511 families living in danger zones in Metro Manila have been relocated since 2011, majority of these in “off-city relocation sites.” Funding for the relocation program “supported land acquisition and development, as well as provision of community facilities,” the DBM said.

The same statement announced the release of an additional P3.38-B—from “FY 2011 savings” and as part of its “P10-B allocation”—to the NHA to complete its housing program. This was on top of the P3.82-B it already released to the NHA in August of that year, which supposedly funded the construction of 12,291 housing units.

In the more detailed list of DAP projects released by the DBM on July 24, the day of DBM Sec. Floriencio Abad’s appearance at the Senate, it is this figure–12,291 housing units—that is claimed to be the actual output of the P10-B fund for informal settlers living in danger zones.

The list does not mention the P450-M that supposedly went for the housing of North Triangle residents, and instead mentions an additional 500 housing units under the general entry “Resettlement, Relocation and Housing Projects.”

But none of these figures by released the DBM corresponds with what President Aquino actually said.

In the statement released by the Office of the President on July 15, the day after Aquino’s nationally-televised speech on DAP, the President claimed that DAP funded the completion of 21,175 housing units for informal settlers. He also claimed that 700 housing units were constructed for North Triangle residents (also not mentioning where these units were).

Macky Macaspac/PW File Photo" class /> An urban poor community in an area the government considers "danger zone" in Metro Manila. <strong>Macky Macaspac/PW File Photo</strong>

An urban poor community in an area the government considers “danger zone” in Metro Manila. Macky Macaspac/PW File Photo

Acuzar: Aquino ally, housing developer

The MRA also pointed out that “aside from Aquino allies in the DILG and NHA who most likely benefited from the DAP funds for housing,” a large part of the funds went to a real estate developer also closely linked to Aquino—Gerry Acuzar, the brother-in-law of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.

This assertion bears a closer look, with the DBM’s December 2013 statement that majority of the housing funds went to units constructed for off-city relocation sites, and not in-city MRBs as claimed in the agency’s July 14 DAP list.

Acuzar owns New San Jose Builders, Inc. (NSJB), the housing developer of Kasiglahan village in the Montalban relocation site. He is also rumored to own Goldenville Realty and Development Corp., the developer of Towerville in the San Jose del Monte relocation site.

The Montalban relocation site, which was supposedly constructed to remove informal settlers from “danger zones”, is located in a fault line and prone to flooding. Housing units were also found by residents to be substandard. Most recently, several houses had their roofs blown away during typhoon Glenda.

Sa katotohanan, wala ni anumang kaginhawaang natamo ang mga biktima ng demolisyon mula sa pondong ‘yan ni Aquino. Sa halip na mabigyang serbisyo ang mga maralita ay pinagkakakitaan pa kami ng gobyerno at ng kaalyado nilang mga negosyante (In reality, we did not benefit at all from Aquino’s funds. Instead of providing services to the poor, the government and their allied businessmen rake in profits in our name),” said Bola.

In Aquino’s upcoming State of the Nation Address, urban poor residents and relocatees will join thousands who are expected to protest in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City against what they call “worsening poverty and corruption” under the present administration.