Real estate groups push resumption of construction work

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
Real estate groups push resumption of construction work
Officials from the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Association Inc., Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines and the National Real Estate Association also participated in the meeting.
STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s four major real estate developer groups have urged the government to allow the resumption of construction work for housing projects even before the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted in the National Capital Region and several provinces in Luzon.

In a video conference with the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) on April 23, officials of the groups said the housing industry can be an “economic pump primer” amid the expected huge losses of the business sector because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Housing will have a faster, positive impact on the economy than the BBB (Build, Build, Build) projects simply because we do not have right of way issues, no bids and awards issues and no required NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) feasibility studies,” Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA) chairman Raphael Felix said during the three-hour meeting.

Officials from the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Association Inc. (CREBA), Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP) and the National Real Estate Association (NREA) also participated in the meeting.

The developers’ groups insisted that the resumption of construction works must be allowed with strict observance of health protocols, including the establishment of barracks and proper health facilities within work sites.

They estimated four million workers in the housing industry are affected by the suspension of construction projects amid the ECQ.

“We have to set the proper initiatives to recover from the slump brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, among our objectives are to produce stats, help raise government revenues through tax generations and provide help to affected industries and eventually, upon return to normalcy, further support socialized housing delivery,” CREBA chairman Noel Cariño said.

Apart from the resumption of construction work, the developers also requested for the relaxation on the documentary and permitting requirements of the government to fast-track activities.

Human Settlement Secretary Eduardo del Rosario said his office had already forwarded the developers’ request for the resumption of works to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for approval.

Del Rosario said there must be closer coordination between the DHSUD and its partner-developers “to ensure that the efforts of the government and the private sector to uplift the lives of the people through the housing industry are synchronized.”

Meanwhile, the Information Technology - Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) is pushing for the conduct of COVID-19 testing before on-site employees will be allowed to go back to work.

“We are highly recommending to administer rapid testing kits among those who will be deployed for on-site work but will need further consideration given the current supply and demand,” IBPAP president and chief executive officer Rey Untal said. 

Rapid testing is among the IBPAP’s recommended measures for IT-Business Process Management (BPM) firms for the post-ECQ scenario. 

For the testing, Untal said the group would be seeking guidance from the Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration. 

He said the group has also recommended to split into shifts the IT-BPM workers to practice social distancing and promote the health and safety of employees. 

“Given the projected influx of returning workers, we also see a need for us to augment public transportation with company shuttles and private vehicles,” he said. 

The group is also recommending the use of technologies such as Staystafe.ph and the Citizen’s Logistics and Early Assessment Report Tool to help with contact tracing. – With Louella Desiderio

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