Freeman Region

Housing firm wants to take over CMP housing project

Miriam Garcia Desacada - The Freeman

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — The Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) had threatened to take over the Community Mortgage Program (CMP) housing project of 2,000 units at Barangay Bagacay in Tacloban City for supertyphoon Yolanda survivors.

SHFC president Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling, in a dialogue with the local media, said the company will instead work for the immediate completion of the multi-million-peso project, which he alleged to have been delayed due to irregularities in the CMP operations.

Cabling said his office had conducted investigation into the “creative” and unexplained fees collected from housing beneficiaries, allegedly with possible connivance between CMP community organizer Siony Sia and a few SHFC employees themselves.

The SHFC subsequently filed several criminal charges for syndicated estafa and theft against Sia, as well as the officials of the six homeowners associations under the CMP. On Friday, the SHFC filed a case before the City Prosecutor's Office against officials of Brigham Estate Home Owners Association for failing to remit payments of the monthly amortization from thousands of housing beneficiaries.

The SHFC is also investigating six other housing sites, similarly handled by Mineland Shelter Foundation owned by Sia. There are about 2,500 beneficiaries in these “anomalous” housing projects in the city, it said.

Cabling said his firm must act now to address the protracted delay of the housing project for Yolanda survivors, and come up with legal action to support President  Rodrigo Duterte’s order to run after officials allegedly involved in fund anomalies and irregularities in the implementation of the CMP, like the one at Bagacay in Tacloban.

The beneficiaries earlier had a dialogue with Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy. “The President (Duterte) is very concerned with housing projects since it has been five years after the disaster. While we file cases against corrupt officials, we have to work on completing housing projects,” Badoy said when she visited the housing project site.

Next week, the SHFC will also file a case against Sia and her “cohorts” in the SHFC for alleged overpricing of land acquisition, non-remittance of payments, and illegal collection of fees from housing recipients.

“I am shocked because multi-million-peso funds are unaccounted (for). President Duterte wants to punish those behind this corruption activity. We hope to file cases within the year so we can take over these projects and complete these projects within the term of the President,” said Cabling, also a lawyer, during a press briefing last Friday night.

Cabling, a former councilor of Davao City, said five SHFC lawyers have been coming to the city to gather evidences and talk to victims. “We want to make sure the case is very tight because we really want to serve justice to Yolanda victims. Let us fight corruption together as we work to strengthen the project to make houses truly livable, adequate, and inclusive for poor Filipinos.”

Sia, whose accreditation as mobilizer has been revoked by SHFC, cannot be reached for comment, but in earlier media interviews, she denied all accusations.

Under the CMP, the SHFC buys the lot for accredited housing association members or beneficiaries, who in turn will pay monthly to SHFC.

Under its loan entitlement, the SHFC raised the loan package from P165,000 to P250,000. Of the amount, P100,000 is for lot acquisition, P30,000 for site development, and P120,000 for housing materials. The loan is payable in 25 years with a monthly amortization of P474, with an annual interest rate of 6 percent, based on the outstanding balance.

The community-based housing project is managed by the homeowners’ association, with a CMP mobilizer assisting them in availing of the program for lot acquisition, site development, and housing fund assistance with the SHFC.

Cabling said SHFC has established measures to strengthen communication between the agency and the communities, through decentralization and streamlining of its processes to expedite shelter assistance to the underprivileged. "I will not stop this until this project be placed in the right perspective and properly implemented, na hindi gagawing milking cow ng mga namamahala ng proyektong ito," he added.

Sia, for her part, vehemently denied Cabling’s allegations of anomalies in project implementation. In a separate press conference, she accused Cabling of using his authority in a desperate move to counter the cases she filed at the Ombudsman against him for grave abuse of authority, and conduct unbecoming of an officer.

Sia admitted that, as of now, only 20 percent of the supposed 2,000 beneficiaries has shown interest to continue their housing loans for the project, citing controversies.

At least 505 houses were actually completed but only 60 families are now occupying these units. "I don't think Cabling can just easily take over this project ... grabe ang pinagdaanan naming mga homeowners before we started para makita ang simula," Sia said, adding that SHFC cannot just take over without due process of law. (FREEMAN)

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