Duterte signs law creating Human Settlements Department

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Duterte signs law  creating Human Settlements Department
The new law will merge the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. It will also reconstitute the HLURB into the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission.

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has signed into law 20 bills, including one creating the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development. 

The DHSUD will serve as the primary national government entity responsible for managing housing, human settlement and urban development. 

The new law will merge the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. It will also reconstitute the HLURB into the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission.

The new department will have administrative supervision over the National Housing Authority, National Home Mortgage Finance Corp., Home Development Mutual Fund and the Social Housing Finance Corp.

It will be composed of the Office of the Secretary, various bureaus, services and other regional offices. 

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, principal author of the law, thanked Duterte for signing the measure.

“The creation of the DHSUD is the realization of the dreams of Filipino families to have decent and proper housing, because this agency will ensure the speedy and effective implementation of the government’s housing programs,” Ejercito said in a statement.?The DHSUD will better address the housing problem, specifically the housing backlog to accommodate more informal settlers and the poor implementation of existing housing laws, he said.?He said the DHSUD would consolidate the administrative function of the HUDCC and the planning and regulatory functions of the HLURB.?The new department will act as the sole and main planning and policy-making, regulatory, program coordination and performance monitoring entity for all housing and urban development concerns, primarily focusing on the access to and affordability of decent and secure shelter.

Mobile phones

?Another important bill signed by the President is Republic Act No. 11202 or the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) Act that requires telecommunication firms to allow cellphone users to retain their old mobile numbers if they switch to another telecommunication service provider. 

According to the law, MNP will promote consumers’ welfare because it provides them the freedom to choose their service provider without having to change their mobile numbers.

The MNP law allows telco subscribers to keep their mobile numbers for life.

The system also seeks to encourage telecommunication firms to compete with each other in providing the best overall value they can offer and to introduce innovations.

Public telecommunication entities will be required to provide nationwide MNP to all qualified subscribers free of charge. 

Telecommunication firms will also facilitate the availing of MNP of virtual network operator (VNOs) it is hosting in its network. VNO refers to an entity that offers telecommunications service under its own brand but uses the network of another company.

Subscribers will not be asked to pay interconnection charges for domestic calls and text messages they make after the law takes effect.

Telecommunication firms will be slapped with a fine of P10,000 if the portability or the giving of MNP service is not performed within the periods allowed under the law but delivered on or before a complaint is filed or delivered after a mediation. 

A fine of not less than P40,000 will be imposed if the MNP is unjustly refused even after mediation.

A fine of P100,000 to P300,000 will be slapped for the second to fourth instances where MNP is unjustly refused even after mediation. 

Companies that commit the offense more than four times will be fined P400,000 to P1 million and  will lose their franchise. 

The National Telecommunications Commission will be authorized to award a subscriber as much as P400,000 in damages. The amount will be collected from erring mobile service providers while the fines will be remitted to the National Treasury. 

Telco giants PLDT and Globe have welcomed the signing into law of the MNP Act, as they dismissed any potential implications that the new law may have on their operations.

“It is not an issue for us because number portability is already in the new franchise of Smart. We will support a law that mandates it,” PLDT and Smart head of Public Affairs Ramon Isberto said.

“Globe competes based on its brand and customer experience,” said Globe senior vice president for corporate communications Yoly Crisanto, noting that the new law effectively empowers consumers more in choosing which provider suits them better.

“The MNP is not new as other countries have been implementing this for quite some time,” Crisanto said.

Isberto said the industry must now work with the government to implement the new law properly.

Cancer treatment

Duterte also signed into law Republic Act 11215 that intends to make timely access to cancer treatment more accessible and affordable to patients.

The measure aims to allow the government to adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which includes the strengthening of integrative, multi-disciplinary, patient and family-centered cancer control policies, programs, systems, interventions and services at all levels of the existing health care delivery system.

“Towards this end, the state shall endeavor to prevent cancer and improve cancer survivorship by scaling up essential programs and increasing investments for robust prevention of cancer, better screening, prompt and accurate diagnosis, timely and optimal treatment,” the measure read.

Duterte, who has been active in helping cancer patients since he was mayor of Davao City, signed the measure last Feb.14. 

It also aims to provide palliative care and pain management, effective survivorship care and late effects management and rehabilitation.

It shall also make cancer treatment and care more equitable and affordable for all, especially for the underprivileged, poor and marginalized Filipinos.

To make it more affordable to every Filipino stricken with the Big C, the law also mandates the creation of a Cancer Assistance Fund to support the cancer medicine and treatment assistance program.

Other national laws signed this month are the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act, which imposes harsher penalties on anyone found guilty of killing, torturing, maiming and raping children and who subject them to inhuman and degrading treatment; the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, which will establish a program that aims to lessen deaths related to cancer; the Secondary School Career Guidance and Counseling Act, which will create a national counseling program to be administered by the education department; and a bill establishing the Philippine Sports Training Center.

Two of the newly signed laws were holiday declarations. One declared Sept. 3 as a special working public holiday throughout the country in commemoration of the surrender of Japanese military forces led by general Tomoyuki Yamashita in Baguio City, while the other declared Jan. 17 as a special non-working holiday in Olongapo in recognition of the heroism of James Leonard Tagle Gordon. 

The President also signed bills granting franchises to Malindang Broadcasting Network and More Electric and Power Corp. and extending the franchises of Ermita Electronics Inc. and religious group Iglesia ni Cristo. 

The rest of the measures were local bills: 

• An act integrating the Cebu City Mountain Extension Campus as a satellite campus of the Cebu Technological University;

• An act converting the Northwestern Mindanao State College of Science and Technology in the City of Tangub, Misamis Occidental into a state university to be known as the University of Northwestern Mindanao; 

• An act converting Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College into a state university to be known as the Zamboanga Peninsula Polytechnic State University;

• An act establishing the Cordillera State Institute of Technical Education, integrating the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority training centers and TESDA-supervised state-run technical vocational institutions in the Cordillera Administrative Region;

• An act changing the name of Lupon School of Fisheries in Lupon, Davao Oriental into the Davao Oriental Polytechnic Institute;  

• An act recognizing the British School of Manila as an educational institution of international character;

• An act increasing the bed capacity of St. Anthony Mother and Child Hospital in Cebu from 25 to 200;

• An act increasing the bed capacity of Rizal Medical Center in Pasig from 300 to 500.   With Paolo Romero, Christina Mendez, Richmond Mercurio


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