What should Aquino’s Sona highlight?
President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is set to deliver his fifth State of the Nation (Sona) address on July 28. Inquirer Property has asked industry experts to share what they think Aquino should address in his Sona.
Here’s their 28-point alternative Sona address for the property sector:
1. Address the low housing budget.
Principal architect and urban planner of Palafox Associates Felino Palafox Jr. observes that the budget for housing has been too low.
Jose Manalad, National Real Estate Association chair emeritus, discloses the “current low budget of government for housing, which is only 1.66 percent of the national budget, while housing contributed 11 percent of economic output and 4.5 percent to economic growth rate.”
2. Announce a Department of Housing by 2016.
“To optimize resources, all agencies must be consolidated into one Housing Department with specific business units tasked to handle land acquisition, financing, raw material sourcing, large-scale construction and regulation. The call for this has been pushed by the private sector for more than a decade,” says Enrique M. Soriano III, Ateneo program director for real estate and senior adviser for Wong+Bernstein Business Advisory.
3. Form a special calamity unit.
“A dedicated unit for calamity-related housing rehabilitation must also be in place. Interventions and programs must form part of a 10- to 20-year strategic rebuilding program on areas that are perennially compromised,” Soriano says.
4. Redefine low- and medium-rise socialized condo projects.
Lawyer Christopher Ryan T. Tan, president of the Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines Inc., hopes P-Noy would address “the redefinition of low- and medium-rise socialized housing condominium projects in highly urbanized areas for in-city or on-site relocation projects, and to encourage private sector participation in the balanced development housing program.”
5. Provide incentives for socialized housing developers.
“Removal of barriers to state-mandated incentives for developers participating in socialized housing and make permitting and other processes and transactions efficient and investor friendly,” Tan adds.
6. Address disaster prevention via architecture, planning, engineering.
Palafox says P-Noy should address hazards before they become disasters through architecture, urban planning and engineering. Prevention, he stresses, is five times cheaper than post-disaster reconstruction.
7. Provide a solution to the low road network.
Jones Lang LaSalle Philippines country head and international director David Leechiu reveals that only 25 percent of all roads nationwide are paved.
8. Acknowledge vertical housing as solution to restrictive land prices.
Alejandro S. Manalac, NREA chair, says that P-Noy should recognize and encourage “decent vertical socialized and low-cost housing in the city or along the fringes.”
9. Form “real” PPPs for decent socialized housing.
“Some LGUs still have big tracts of land which are not being put into good use. These can be used in partnership with the private developers to produce decent socialized housing. This is a real private-public partnership (PPP) for the poor,” Mañalac quips.
10. Admit a social housing crisis exists.
“There is a looming social housing crisis that no Philippine president has overcome,” according to Soriano. “There is a clear and present danger in social housing. The housing agencies are 20-year failures as it failed to deliver and or at least curb the housing backlog,” Soriano stresses.
11. Explain the lack of official government statistics.
Soriano says that unofficial estimates have pegged a backlog of close to 6 million homes and 500,000 new homes needed annually (the unmet demand).
“On record, the backlog for the past 15 years has stayed at 3.9 million homes, but with the way our population has been growing, the figures are no longer credible. Private developers can only produce 20 percent of this unmet demand and every year it continues to build up,” Soriano observes.
12. Declare war on bureaucracy.
“What is the biggest incentive for developers, aside from his anticorruption mandate? P-Noy must now declare a war on bureaucracy. Corruption, high-carrying costs and bureaucracy in LGUs have made developers rethink their housing programs for the mass market. More than 50 percent of private horizontal developers have shifted to vertical projects, moving mass housing production to dangerously low levels,” Soriano stresses.
13. Assure the housing market of financial solutions.
“A combination of financial credit for buyers and community developers, reinforced by a coalition of support from stakeholders coming from legislators, private developers and the LGUs are key structural elements to subdue the mass housing problem. A dispersal of large-scale community developments apportioned to major developers and spread to the entire archipelago will reverse migration to the nation’s capital and decongest Metro Manila,” Soriano says.
14. Focus on an integrated housing policy for government workers.
“An integrated housing policy for government employees, harnessing its huge land ownership for more large-scale housing projects must be accelerated. This includes the improvement of old and crowded developments and transform these into communities with better facilities and improved access to national roads and progressive regional centers. It must relentlessly pursue housing policies that address the needs of the younger generation as well as the elderly,” Soriano continues.
15. Set public expectations on housing agencies.
Soriano urges P-Noy to discuss what the people should expect from the housing agencies and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and reevaluate the vision and mission of HUDCC, which Soriano says is “no longer relevant.”
“P-Noy must step in and challenge the housing agencies to deliver 300,000 homes every year. He must put to task HUDCC in the last two years of his presidency. Agencies like the National Housing Authority must this time embark on quality homes with livable environments.”
16. Revisit the national building code.
Tan says that the “alignment of various codes on building and development standards such as the national building code, fire code, BP 220, PD 957 and local government code must be attuned to current times and to climate change.”
17. Define roles of agencies in times of disaster.
P-Noy must determine the “synchronization of roles of the various government agencies toward a coordinated effort to achieve a common goal, particularly in the rehabilitation of disaster-stricken areas,” Tan says.
18. Identify land for future housing sites for the poor.
“Access to land should be made available for future housing sites, and to overhaul the inefficient conversion processes of the agrarian reform department in support of the President’s pronouncement to prioritize housing for the poor, national land use and land administration reform,” Tan says.
19. Map out the Philippines’ most vulnerable zones.
Claro dG. Cordero Jr. Jones Lang LaSalle Philippines’ head for Research, Consulting & Valuation, says P-Noy must revisit his previous Sona to see if “the concerned LGUs have adhered and provided concrete plans to the multihazard mapping of the most vulnerable locations in the country.”
20. Assess vulnerable property developments.
P-Noy should “promulgate a nationwide assessment on the readiness and safety of vulnerable property developments (such as high-rise properties) against natural disasters,” Cordero adds.
21. Establish mass housing for disaster-stricken areas.
Cordero says the President should “catch up on the provision of mass housing developments, especially for the disaster-stricken areas.”
22. Encourage business transparency in real estate.
P-Noy should also “encourage business transparency in real estate development and practices to attract property investors,” Cordero says.
23. Check if relocation has proceeded.
Cordero also urges P-Noy to revisit his previous Sona to see if the “relocation of informal settlers in high-risk areas, especially those blocking the drainage systems,” has actually proceeded.
24. Update the public on flood prevention programs.
Cordero also wants to know if the President has made progress on the “implementation of long-term, effective flood-prevention programs in key urban areas.”
25. Open up the country to foreign capital.
Leechiu says “the issue should focus on opening the country up to foreign capital to develop the many highly underdeveloped industries in the country. This will create jobs and increase purchasing power and increase money velocity.”
26. Establish the long-overdue REIT.
Palafox notes, “Our Asean neighbors have Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). The Philippines doesn’t. REIT is a big boost for foreign direct investments and local investors in real estate.”
27. Commit to upgrade ports.
P-Noy should commit to “improve and upgrade airports, sea ports and build new ones,” Palafox urges.
28. Revise the ratio of foreign-to-local ownership.
Palafox says the 60:40 rule of land ownership (60 percent for Filipinos, and only 40 percent for foreigners) must be reviewed and revised.
“Foreigners are not allowed to own land in the Philippines. Some Filipinos and many politicians reportedly own properties abroad. Why can’t we allow foreigners to own land in the Philippines? They can develop better real estate and communities, and they cannot bring the land urban development out of the country,” Palafox reasons.
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