Homes for cops, soldiers like birdhouses, says lawmaker
Houses built for soldiers and policemen and their families, including those of the 44 Special Action Force commandos killed in Mamasapano, are so small that they look like “dove cotes,” a party-list lawmaker said on Thursday.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said the Aquino administration “spent billions of pesos just to come out with bahay ng kalapati (dove cotes) for our brave soldiers and policemen.”
“These bahay ng kalapati are a slap in the faces of our brave men. Only through the provision of decent housing can we repay our gallant soldiers for the sacrifices they make,” said Alejano.
He said that less than 10 percent of the houses built by the National Housing Authority (NHA) for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were occupied because these were poorly designed, built with substandard materials, and lacked utilities and basic services.
“I’d rather have 300 quality homes than a thousand decrepit ones. What is the use of having thousands of housing units if they are not habitable? Quality matters more than quantity,” he said.
Alejano said the NHA just wasted billions of pesos by scrimping on the quality of the houses.
During the Sept. 29 budget hearing in the House of Representatives, NHA officials admitted their shortcomings in designing and building the houses, specifically their failure to get inputs from the soldiers and policemen who would live in the units.
“The NHA promised to include us in their planning in their next housing projects. But what will we do with these thousands of bahay ng kalapati?” asked Alejano.
He noted that Aquino-era housing projects were by far the worst among communities established for policemen and soldiers over the past decades.
Based on a report by the AFP vice chief of staff to Alejano, President Aquino signed Administrative Order No. 9 in 2011 implementing the housing program for the PNP, AFP, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Bureau of Corrections in two phases.
Phase 1 was completed in 2013, with 10,900 row houses (valued at P175,000 each) and loftable row houses (valued at P208,000 each) built.
Phase 2 will be completed this year with 31,200 units (valued at 240,000 each) in 30 different sites nationwide. The housing units have a floor area of between 22 and 27 square meters.
The AFP, which received 45 to 50 percent of the housing units, said that although 95 percent of the houses had attracted buyers, the occupancy rate was not too high.
Alejano said he was “dismayed” when he saw the houses himself during a recent site inspection of two AFP housing projects in Baras, Rizal, and Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
“There is still no water connection up to this day. The housing units are decaying even if they are not occupied,” said Alejano.
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