THE Iloilo City Urban Affairs Office (ICUPAO) has been around for 22 years but its database of squatters or informal settlers is in disarray.
“Since ICUPAO was created in 1995, there has been no proper documentation (of applicants and beneficiaries of mass housing projects in Iloilo City),” said ICUPAO chief Jeck Conlu in an interview on Feb. 21, 2017.
Conlu said an improved and computerized database will help resolve decade-old problems of the office.
Thus, he is looking at digital mapping and computerization as solution to the problems of “maninoy” system or favoritism in choosing beneficiaries, selling/renting out of awarded housing units, duplication of awardees in families, among others.
“The computer system will initially identify who are qualified (to avail of the socialized housing program) based on the information provided by the applicants,” he explained.
The identified applicants will be validated by the ICUPAO and the result will be included in the database.
“So, the computer will not base the selection as to who backs or endorses the applicants,” Conlus added.
The database is also a transparency and security mechanism, Conlu said, as every relocation site will have a master list of beneficiaries, which include basic information such as name of person, place of origin, relocation site address, date of awarding of unit, names of family members, among others.
He said the master list will help ICUPAO check if indeed the actual residents of the relocation units are also in the list.
“So, it will really avoid selling or renting out of units,” Conlu stressed.
Conlu, who replaced former ICUPAO chief Wilfredo Jurilla, opined that the current administration inherited the antiquated system.
“Kun tanawon ta ang problema ginsalo lang ng administrasyon ni (Mayor Jed Patrick) Mabilog. Kun sang una pa lang na properly documented at properly install ang system, indi man gid amo ni kadaku ang problema kun ngaa damu kita informal settlers na nagareklamo na wala sila mauna, wala sila mabutang, it’s because pag-abot ya ni Mabilog diri pa lang niya nakita na kelangan idocument na maayo kag 20 years ago ginabutang lang kamu dira pero wala kami ginakaptan nga documents.”
The digital mapping and computerization of ICUPAO will not cost the city government as two universities expressed intention to partner with the office.
This year, City Hall targets to provide housing units to at least 300 applicants who are illegally residing in private lots, and are subject to ejectment orders from the courts.
To date, there are 12,000 socialized mass housing applicants pending before the ICUPAO.
Conlu said it will take about 100 hectares of land to accommodate them. While the city has funds to purchase lands, the moratorium on conversion of agricultural lands to residential is another problem.
Conlu said Mabilog already appealed and brought the issue before Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), Department of Agriculture (DA) and House of Representatives.
“They noted our concern, and assured it will be prioritized in their deliberations,” Conlu said.
The city has 24 offsite and onsite relocation sites.
Conlu said the Mabilog administration has been prudent in its socialized housing program – wherein the beneficiary pays the lot at very minimal amount while the development of the site is shouldered by the city.
“It cannot be that everything will be just for free otherwise everyone will ask to be included in the program,” Conlu said.
Part of efforts to overhaul ICUPAO is the revival of the Local Housing Board which Conlu will convene next week.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) mandated the creation of Local Housing Board through Memorandum Circular 2008-143 dated Sept. 19, 2008.
The board was created as “the clearing house for the conduct of demolition and eviction activities involving the homeless and underprivileged citizens to the respective LGUs having territorial jurisdiction over the proposed demolition and eviction activities of the government.
It is headed by the city or municipal mayor, with the following members: chairperson of Sanggunian Committee on Housing and Urban Development or its equivalent; City Planning and Development coordinator; City Municipal Engineer; representatives of People’s Organization, NGO and Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.