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The National Housing Authority (NHA) has come under scrutiny for allegedly diverting funds originally intended for the Housing Assistance Program for Calamity Victims (HAPVC) to cover expenses related to the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) program from 2020 to 2022.
Launched with much fanfare in late 2020, the BP2 initiative faced financial constraints, resulting in a staggering bill of P140.347 million for the NHA, state auditors noted in a report.
The BP2 program is a government initiative during the Duterte administration aimed at facilitating the relocation of families from congested urban areas back to their provinces. Its goal is to promote equitable development, ease urban overcrowding, and provide new opportunities for families in their native provinces.
The program provides aid through various government agencies, including housing, livelihood support, healthcare, education, and other essential services, to help beneficiaries establish sustainable lives and alleviate urban congestion.
In a report that called out the NHA, the Commission on Audit (COA) pointed out that BP2’s funding should have been drawn from the budgets of various BP2 member agencies, based on an executive order from Malacañang.
The auditors referred to Executive Order No. 114 issued on May 6, 2020, by then-Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, which stated that funds for the BP2 program implementation “shall be charged against the existing appropriations of the BP2 Council member agencies.”
Breaking down the expenses, the COA noted that the NHA spent P82.154 million for BP2 infrastructure projects such as the construction of multipurpose centers, the establishment of a dozen satellite offices, the development of roads, the installation of billboards, and the construction of gates.
Other expenses included P39.5 million for maintenance and operational expenses, P17.134 million for media coverage and P1.56 million for equipment.
Initially, the BP2 Program expenses were drawn from NHA’s corporate fund, totaling P105.074 million, but were subsequently reclassified under the “subsidy fund–HAPCV,” according to state auditors.
They noted that an additional expense of P35.273 million was later directly debited from the subsidy fund – HAPCV, bringing the overall disbursements to P140.347 million.
The COA noted the absence of data indicating whether other member agencies of the BP2 Council shared in the expenses.
Part of the COA report read: “It is important to note that no data was provided regarding whether other expenses were charged to other member agencies of the BP2 Council, thus casting doubt on whether these expenditures were properly charged to NHA.”
The COA said the NHA should adhere to the executive order by urging BP2 Council members to contribute to the program’s expenses in line with their respective obligations.
The state auditors also recommended that NHA develop a comprehensive cost-sharing plan illustrating how expenses are distributed among the Council’s member agencies.
Responding to the COA, the NHA said it has requested the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to set aside some P500 million of the P1.2 billion 2021 Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) for HAPCV for the BP2 program.
In a June 8 response, the DBM rejected the request, citing the specific purpose of the SARO, and pointing out that the executive order from Malacañang outlined the sources of funds for the BP2 program. It said the funds should come from the budgets of the BP2 council member agencies.
The agencies include the following: the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Health (DOH);
Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD);
Department of Education (DepED), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), and Cooperatives Development Authority (CDA). – Rappler.com