Whatever the motivations of former Pandan Mayor Honesto “Olog” Tabligan II in spearheading or, as he would prefer it, backing the creation of a homeowners’ association for a housing project in Virac, he has certainly brought hope to thousands of Catandunganon families who do not own their own homes.
According to the 2015 Census of Population and Housing (the results of the 2020 CPH on housing characteristics are not yet available), only 61 percent of the 53,814 households in the island province owned their respective houses and lots.
Nearly 2,000 rented both house and lot while 800 built their own houses on rented lots.
The same census said that about 12,000 built homes on rent-free lots with the consent of landowners and 5,700 lived on houses and lots rent-free from its owners.
Nearly 700 others were technically squatters, building houses on lots without the consent of the owners.
In the capital town of Virac alone, only two-thirds of the 15,068 households in 2015 owned their houses and lots.
Certainly, the Pagmakolog project, with its 3,300 proposed beneficiaries, would significantly reduce the 21,000 Catandunganon families which do not own their homes, especially if a similar project could be undertaken under the Community Mortgage Program (CMP).
However, the organizers of the laudable endeavor, including the former mayor, are apparently starting on the wrong foot by advising the HOA members to secure a cedula as purported residents of Palta Small.
This is misrepresentation, plain and simple, as majority of the cedula applicants are not residents of the barangay, which as of the 2020 Census had only a population of 948 with about 400 registered voters.
It is apparent that either the organizers are not entirely aware of the SHFC programs or they are deliberately withholding information about the housing programs, especially eligibility requirements of prospective members.
There is absolutely no need for those interested to declare their residential address as Palta Small to qualify for slots in the proposed housing project, as long as they are homeless and underprivileged urban poor families.
As National Housing Authority (NHA) assistant project manager Albert Perfecto pointed out during his briefing for municipal and barangay officials last week, there is such a thing as a CMP Off-Site Project.
Corporate Circular No. 11-018 of the Social Housing Finance Corporation defines the CMP Off-Site Project as “one where a homogeneous community of homeless and underprivileged urban poor families decides voluntarily to transfer to another area to alleviate or improve the circumstance it is facing.”
Now there are specific loan requirements and eligibility: one, the community association must have 30% of its members from an existing core group of residents from the low income/informal sector of the same city; and two, the group has been formally organized for at least one year prior to application.
Under the same SHFC Circular, the community association or HOA shall be assisted by a CMP Mobilizer, which shall be entitled to two percent (2%) of the total CMP loan amount or One Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (PhP 1,500.00) per CA member, whichever is higher.
As a 2015 paper on the CMP prepared by researchers from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said, one of the CMP’s main challenges was its current service delivery mechanisms, which may exclude the poor from participation.
It said, among others, that for a program that allows nonresident households to join CAs for both on-site and off-site communities, there is a high probability of including households that are not CMP target beneficiaries since the decision to include/exclude households is made primarily by CA officers.
The question now is how many of the Pagmakolog HOA members belong to informal settler families (ISFs) or the “homeless and underprivileged urban poor families” that are the supposed beneficiaries of the CMP?