PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed Republic Act (RA) 11201, creating the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, in an effort to ensure that underprivileged and homeless citizens have an access to "adequate, safe, secure, habitable, sustainable, resilient, and affordable home."
RA 11201, inked by Duterte on February 14, creates the department through the consolidation of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).
The new department is delegated as the primary national government entity responsible for the management of housing, human settlement, and urban development.
It is also mandated to be the "sole and main planning and policy-making, regulatory, program coordination performance monitoring entity for all housing settlement and urban development concerns, primarily focusing on the access to and the affordability of basic human needs."
The department is composed of Office of the Secretary, and various bureaus, services and regional offices.
The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development is led by a Secretary, assisted by three Undersecretaries and the Assistant Secretaries appointed by the President.
"It shall develop and adopt a national strategy to immediately address the provision of adequate and affordable housing to all Filipinos, and shall ensure the alignment of the policies, programs, and projects of all its attached agencies to facilitate the achievement of his objective," the law read.
The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development has the power to exercise policy development, coordination, monitoring and evaluation; environmental, land use and urban planning and development; housing and real estate development regulation; and homeowners association and community development.
The department, under RA 11202, is allowed to enter into contracts, joint venture agreements or understanding, public-private partnerships, and memoranda of agreement or understanding, either domestic or foreign, under such terms and conditions deemed proper and reasonable.
It can also receive, take and hold by bequest, device, gift, purchase or lease, either absolutely or in trust for any of its purposes from foreign and domestic sources, any asset, grant or property, real or personal, subject to such limitations provided under existing laws and regulations.
It is also mandated to discharge all responsibilities of government that may arise from treaties, agreements, and other commitments on human settlement and urban development to be extended through bilateral or multilateral loans and programs.
The department can also determine, fix, and collect reasonable amounts to charged as fees and charges necessary for the effective implementation of all laws, rules and regulations enforced by the department and impose reasonable fines and penalties for violation thereof.
It also has the power to recommend new legislation and amendments to existing laws as may be necessary for the attainment of government's objectives in housing.
Duterte's new law also gives the new department the authority to promote, accredit and regulate the use of indigenous materials and technologies in the housing construction.
It can also implement prototype projects in housing and urban development undertakings, with the right to exercise the power of eminent domain, when necessary.
The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development is also tasked to open roads of subdivisions to the public, when the general welfare requires it upon consultation with stakeholders.
Under RA 11201, the HLURB is reconstituted as the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission (HSAC) attached to the department for policy, planning and program coordination only.
The commission is composed of five commissioners chosen by the President.
The existing employees of HUDCC and HLURB will enjoy security of tenure and will be absorbed by the department or the HSAC.
The law also created the National Human Settlements Board that will be chaired by the secretary of the new department.
Other board members include the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority; Finance, Budget, Public Works, and Local Government departments; and the head of each attached agency of the new department.
The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development has the administrative supervision over National housing Authority, National home Mortgage Finance Corporation, Home Development Mutual Fund, and Social Housing Finance Corporation.
The department is also ordered to establish housing one-stop processing centers in the regions, which will centralize the processing and issuance of all required housing-related permits, clearances, and licenses.
The funds for the creation of the new department will be charged against the current year's appropriation of the HUDCC and HLURB.
Palace made public the copy of RA 11201 on Tuesday, February 19. (SunStar Philippines)