By Xave Gregorio
Several housing units constructed for informal settler families during the term of former President Noynoy Aquino remain unused, the Commission on Audit (COA) said in a report.
The COA said 4,988 units remain unoccupied to this date, while only 22 percent of the 16,748 beneficiaries, or 3,656 informal settler families families, were relocated into housing units.
Three housing projects of the Aquino administration, namely Tala Phase 2, Pleasant Hills Package 1 and Navotas 2, consisting of 1,260 units have been idle and unoccupied for one to three years.
Officials interviewed by the NHA say beneficiaries of Tala Phase 2 opted to avail of the off-city relocation, while the sewage treatment plant for Pleasant Hills Package 1 is not yet installed, and that the local government of Navotas imposed drug testing as an additional requirement for beneficiaries.
Additionally, the COA were told that the National Housing Authority (NHA) cannot force informal settler families to transfer because they must voluntarily reocate, and cannot determine who issues notices of demolition which cause gridlocks in the relocation process.
The COA also says the Informal Settler Families-National Technical Working Group does not give directives and instructions to harmonize activities of implementing agencies.
Delayed power and water connections from private utility companies also make it hard for the NHA to relocate informal settlers, the COA said.
The five-year housing program was started in 2011, aiming to relocate informal settler families from high-risk areas along waterways.
It was spearheaded by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, with the government allocating P50 billion, and sourcing its initial funds from the controversial Development Acceleration Program.