DILIMAN, Quezon City-- The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), and 19 local government units (LGUs) have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that will provide decent and affordable housing to farmers.
DAR Secretary Brother John Castriciones and DHSUD Secretary Eduardo del Rosario led the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) which seeks to pursue a meaningful agrarian reform program by uplifting the lives and economic status of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and their families.
The 19 sites where the farmers’ houses will be constructed are located in the following: Llanera, Nueva Ecija; Narvacan, Ilocos Sur; Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte; Umingan, Pangasinan; Alaminos City, Pangasinan; Bani, Pangasinan; Bauang, La Union; Ilagan, Isabela; Quezon, Isabela; Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya; Punukulan, Quezon; Mauban, Quezon; Libmanan, Camarines Sur; Canaman, Camarines Sur; Guinobatan, Albay; Mina, Iloilo; Matanao, Davao, and Caoayan, Ilocos Sur.
Brother John said the joint program between DAR and DHSUD called BALAI Farmers and Farmworkers’ Housing Program is one of the major programs of DAR that would improve the living condition of farmer-beneficiaries in the country.
“Most of our farmers and farm-workers are poor and does not own the house they live in. And even if they own it, most of their houses are dilapidated and need repair. Why? Because the farmers would rather use their money for farming and family expenses than use it for house repairs,” said Brother John.
According to Secretary Del Rosario, BALAI, which stands for Building Adequate, Livable, Affordable, and Inclusive housing, are the foundation on which the housing project is anchored.
“When Secretary Castriciones first told me about this project, I immediately said ‘approved without thinking’ because I believe it is doable, supportable, and achievable,” he said.
DAR Undersecretary for Support and Services Emily Padilla said the program will be implemented in two schemes, on-site and off-site housing.
Padilla said the on-site housing scheme will cover home improvements of existing houses of ARBs, construction, or purchase of a new house for ARBs, and refinancing of an existing housing loan secured by the ARB.
“The farmers’ housing loans will be secured by emancipation patent, certificate of land ownership award, and other titles issued to them. Housing loans for house construction or improvement in lands covered by CLOA will be treated as additional loans by the Land Bank of the Philippines and other lending institutions,” Padila said.
The off-site housing scheme covers subdivision projects located in the capital or in major urban centers of the province. “Such projects may be chosen by farmers to provide housing for their families, children, or relatives so they can be near to schools, medical facilities, and market centers for their agri-products,” Padilla explained.
She added that subdivision plans, and designs will be in such a way that production facilities such as rice and sugar mills, dryers, and warehouses are integrated with places designated for open space such as basketball courts and multi-purpose centers.
The housing units are the duplex type with two bedrooms each, covering 37 square meters.
“The provision of housing is demand-driven, and payment will be based on the farmers’ capacity to pay, where the maximum term of housing loan will be at 30 years and amortization payment scheme will be based on cropping or harvest schedule of farmers,” Padilla further explained.
The multi-sectoral undertaking, which will be implemented through the convergence of various government agencies such as DHSUD, DAR, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Social Welfare and Development will also provide other livelihood opportunities for farmers and their families.