Robredo on HUDCC stint: No one can say I didn’t give it my all

Patty Pasion
'I think everyone in the Cabinet, maybe even those who don't like me, would say that I showed how hardworking I am, that I showed how I fought for housing issues,' says the Vice President

FIELDWORK. Vice President Leni Robredo visits housing projects in Barangay Batia, Bocaue, Bulacan on August 30, 2016. File photo from the Office of the Vice President

MANILA, Philippines – “I don’t think even the President or anyone in the Cabinet can say na nagkulang ako (that I did not give it my all).”

Vice President Leni Robredo believes her performance during her short stint as the chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) was not a source of conflict.

Robredo had resigned as housing czar on Monday, December 5, after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered her to stop attending Cabinet meetings – “the last straw” for Robredo. (READ: FULL TEXT: Robredo’s letter of resignation from Duterte Cabinet)

“I think everyone in the Cabinet, kahit siguro ‘yung may ayaw sa ‘kin, would say na ‘pinakita ko kung gaano ako ka-grabe mag-trabaho, ‘pinakita ko kung gaano ko ipinaglaban ‘yung lahat ng issues patungkol sa housing,” Robredo told reporters in a news conference on Monday, after delivering an address to the nation.

(I think everyone in the Cabinet, maybe even those who don’t like me, would say that I showed how hardworking I am, that I showed how I fought for housing issues.)


“Kahit siguro tanungin ‘yung lahat ng housing agencies, ako lang siguro ‘yung HUDCC chairman na personal na nag-a-attend ng lahat ng board meetings. Ako siguro ‘yung HUDCC chair na halos, halos maraming araw sa isang linggo na doon talaga ako nag-o-opisina,” she also said.

(Even if you ask all the housing agencies, I’m probably the only HUDCC chair who personally attended all board meetings. I’m the HUDCC chair who spends most workdays holding office there.)

Accomplishments in HUDCC

Based on a list provided by HUDCC, Robredo’s accomplishments during her 5-month stint include the following:

  • Reducing documentary requirements for processing socialized housing projects from a total of 27 documents to 9
  • Implementing a special lane for processing certificate of tax exemption for transfers of raw land for urgent socialized housing projects  
  • Provision of low-cost housing for 46,000 families as of September 31
  • Developing a system integrating the following data to identify lands available for housing projects: 
  1. ISFs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s National Household Targeting System (NHTS)
  2. Geographical information from the European Satellite Agency (ESA)
  3. Title information from the Land Registration Authority (LRA)
  4. Geohazards risk maps
  • P1 billion worth of Urban Development Assistance Fund as incentive to local government units that will create housing boards and develop plans to identify lands tenable for socialized and low-cost housing 

Robredo also led the signing of a memorandum of agreement with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the National Housing Authority (NHA) to fast-track the issuance of a Certificate of Tax Exemption, which is needed for socialized housing projects.

On the Vice President’s Facebook page, her team also posted on Monday a photo album providing a summary of her accomplishments as housing czar.


Pending issues

Despite these listed accomplishments, there are critics who say the Vice President completely failed to cut the housing backlog. Robredo earlier said the backlog could hit up to 5 million this year. (READ: Robredo’s goal: Address 1.4-M housing backlog, less steps)

“There are thousands of idle housing units that can be freely distributed to those in need. Millions are being paid in unjust amortization costs. Profit instead of housing rights have ruled the policy trends of shelter agencies,” said urban poor group Kadamay in a statement.

Kadamay also criticized Robredo’s decision to partner with the private sector to build “decent and affordable” homes either near or within the city. (READ: Robredo eyes private partnership to address housing backlog

“She called for greater participation of the private sector in socialized housing which is as contradictory as it sounds. This policy has given rise to soaring amortization rates and inaccessible housing units for the poor,” the group said.

Kadamay also raised the lack of water and utilities in housing units provided by the government.

Robredo earlier acknowledged that water and utilities in relocation sites were problematic. She had planned to resolve this and other housing issues through a comprehensive housing roadmap being crafted together with the World Bank, which they were aiming to complete by the first quarter of 2017. (READ: Robredo orders inventory of housing data to beat backlog

Even if she resigned from HUDCC, Robredo said housing will still be among the advocacies of the Office of the Vice President. Her other priorities include food security, rural development, public health care, and education. – 

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.