"WE WILL be the first, the model, and we will be a prototype on how to execute and implement the housing program of the national government."

This was stressed by Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez after the City Council authorized him to sign the joint venture agreement (JVA) between the local government and WRS Holding Inc. at the City Council’s regular session Tuesday night, March 7.

Before the signing of the JVA, a public hearing was conducted at the City Council’s Session Hall with the members of the Council, the representatives of WRS Holding and the barangay officials.

The JVA was signed by Benitez and the representatives of WRS Holding led by William Russell Scheirman Jr., Scheirman Consortium; Atty. Jennifer Ong, legal counsel of "Scheirman Consortium; and Kenneth Macoy, of Pag-ibig, at the lobby of Bacolod City Government Center.

"I’m very happy that it’s already signed. The first Pambansang Pabahay Program in the country will now commence in Bacolod City," Benitez said.

He said this is one of the first public-private partnership (PPP) agreements signed by the local government for the Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino (P4) program of the national government.

He added that construction will start within this year, and they are hopeful that it will be part of the State of the National Address (Sona) of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

On March 6, Benitez submitted to the City Council the JVA, which is to govern the PPP relationship between the City of Bacolod and the consortium of WRS Holdings, Inc. and Scheirman Construction Consolidated Incorporated.

The mayor noted that the Pambansang Pabahay Program of the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development (DHSUD) under the Marcos Administration will give an opportunity to the city’s information settler families (ISFs) to have decent homes.

"It’s a human settlement, a community, and an area where you are not just having a roof over your head, it’s a place to live, work, and play," Benitez said.

He said it’s part of their campaign promise to provide the estimated 50,000 ISF in Bacolod City, with a clear opportunity to own decent, affordable houses in properly planned communities.

"ISF with gross earnings pegged at minimum wage, or some P12,000 a month, with still respectable take home pay prior to deduction of the computed housing loan amortization, are the primary target beneficiaries, provided they are or will become members of the Pag-Ibig Fund," he added.

The Scheirman consortium will build an initial set of Asenso Yuhum Housing Units numbering 10,000 at the city relocation site in Barangay Vista Alegre with 3,000 units and on the city property in Bredco with 7,000 units, with a commitment to build another set of 10,000 units as additional land is made available by the city government.

The PPP arrangement between the City of Bacolod and the Scheirman consortium is in a form of a JVA which contains the following essential provisions:

The Asenso Yuhum Housing Program is the contribution of the City of Bacolod to the Pambansang Pabahay Program of President Marcos, Jr. administration, which is strongly pushed by the DHSUD and actively supported by the National Home Development Mutual Fund, commonly known as Pag-IBIG Fund;

The DSHUD will provide some subsidy to ISFs qualified to take-out housing loans from Pag-IBIG; The City of Bacolod will provide the land upon which the human settlement/housing units will be built; The Scheirman consortium will provide P2.0 billion to support its commitment to build human settlements/housing units for the ISFs of Bacolod City, in two sets of 10,000 units each.

The construction of the buildings shall be undertaken by a private proponent at no cost to the City of Bacolod and DSHUD; and the human settlement is a mix of housing units, commercial spaces, and open spaces; on the revenues from commercial spaces, the city will have a share of 10 percent, it added.

On March 3, the Committee on Public Private Partnership Program, chaired by the city mayor, awarded the privilege of building the first human settlement enclaves for the ISFs of the city, under a PPP to the Scheirman consortium.

The award was made two days after the 21-day Swiss Challenge Period ended on March 1.

Last year, the Scheirman consortium submitted to the City of Bacolod an unsolicited proposal to build Asenso Yuhom Housing units under a PPP arrangement. A series of negotiations ensued, with the mayor taking the lead as Chairman of the constituted Committee on the P4 Program.

A successful outcome was achieved from the series of negotiations between members of the P4 Committee of the city and the Scheirman consortium leading to the publication of an invitation to interested Swiss challenge proponents, but no challenger came forward.

The Scheirman consortium, led by its Chief Executive Officer William Russell Scheirman, Jr., has expertise in constructing residential buildings and other commercial establishments as well as creating green and sustainable communities.

Both members of the consortium, that is, WRS Holding, Inc., and Scheirman Construction Consolidated Incorporated, are based in Cainta, Metro Manila.*