NHA denies substandard materials used for housing units

MANILA, Philippines – Facing lawmakers, the National Housing Authority (NHA) addressed inquiries about the poor condition of housing units in resettlement sites.

During the second joint congressional hearing on the resettlement sites, NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr said there can be no substandard houses built because the project proposals were approved by the agencies concerned.

"In all of the projects, there is a design that is approved by the authority upon submission of the [technical] proposal of the developer and that design is duly approved by the NHA, the local government unit, and the Department of Public Works and Highways," Escalada said on Tuesday, May 30.

But during Congress' inspection of housing units in Pandi, Bulacan, lawmakers found that there were poorly-constructed facilities.

This was raised again in the hearing by a representative of the beneficiaries in Bulacan.

Resettlement sites in Pandi have been the focus of the inspection and investigation of the housing committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives after urban poor group Kadamay occupied thousands of idle housing units there. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Kadamay's #OccupyPabahay: Anarchy or just cause?)

Pandi Village I Homeowners Association representative Corazon Teneza told lawmakers that the houses they have been living in for the last two years were poorly built.

"Iyong flooring, masyado pong rough, maganda pa iyong kalsada sa highway… Iyong bintana namin, jalousie pero dahan-dahan dapat sa pagsara dahil baka bumagsak ang mga salamin… Iyong CR, kung kayo po ay malusog, dahan-dahan sa pag-upo dahil baka ang bowl ay bumigay," Teneza said during the hearing.

(The flooring is too rough, even highways are smoother... we have to be careful when closing our jalousie windows because the glass panels might fall off... Our comfort rooms, if you're a heavier person, you need to sit on the toilet bowl carefully because it might collapse.)

"Iyong pintuan ay 'di maganda. Ang doorknob 'di nga po maganda. Ang isang susi, isang block ang nabubuksan," she also said.

(The door is not of good quality. The doorknob is also not of good quality. One key can open one block of houses.)

Responding to the complaints, Escalada said these cannot be attributed to substandard materials.

He said reported cracks on the houses are just construction defects while the other complaints can be addressed through repairs.

"They have been there for the last 2 or 3 years. To sum it up, on the 5th year, we can see already necessary rectification. They can ask us for repairs so I should say these are more of maintenance issues rather than substandard [materials]. These are the things that would need further repair," he explained.

Asked if the NHA immediately pays developers once a project is finished, Escalada said they pay the developers 90% of the amount due after inspection. The remaining 10% is only paid a year after if they don't spot construction defects.

But if there is a need to check on developers' compliance with basic construction standards, Escalada said they have a monitoring and evaluation team responsible for that.

Aside from the poor facilities, the LGUs also called for assistance in providing services for the new residents relocated to their area.

Pandi Mayor Celestino Marquez said only the Quezon City government has extended aid even if they also received new residents coming from the cities of Malabon and Manila.

Tanay, Rizal Mayor Rex Tanjuatco, meanwhile, shared in the hearing that his LGU has a memorandum of agreement with Pasig City. Tanay had received informal settler families from Pasig.

The two LGUs agreed there would be support for providing livelihood opportunities for Tanay's new residents. (READ: Why P600-a-month housing is still a burden to the poor– Rappler.com

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.