Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Promising initial accomplishments
PERSPECTIVE By Cherry Ballescas
(The Freeman) Updated October 16, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (0) View comments

Vice-President Jojemar Binay, as Housing Czar, deserves to be congratulated for his policy to grant loan condonation to BLISS homeowners.

Requiring the owners a minimum insurance payment of over P400 and simple doable procedures to avail of the loan condonation policy earned so much profit, both financial and non-financial, for the new administration.

By allowing the owners to pay a reasonable monthly amortization, VP Binay easily assured this new government monthly collections that could run to millions of pesos from grateful beneficiaries of the loan condonation.

Had VP Binay insisted on the same policy of forcing high interest rates and penalties on homeowners as previous administrations, he would have realized, as previous housing officials had, that the response rate would be very low not to mention the high public resistance and resentment and expensive court fees needed by government to force the homeowners to pay their overdue amortizations.

Unlike previous administrations that imposed penalties and high payments and that refused to extend some reprieve to the homeowners, long burdened by the financial crisis and abusive and inefficient governance, VP Binay's loan condonation policy signaled a new approach, one based on faith and reciprocity between the new government and the public.

Hence, aside from possible millions per month collection for housing amortizations, Binay earned for this new government the people's trust and commitment to meet their payment obligations. Rather than enemies, VP Binay's loan condonation policy has made the grateful homeowners active partners of the new government. A very low-key but meaningful accomplishment by VP Binay for the new adminstration within the first 100 days - not bad at all and one most welcomed!??

Alvin Dizon is also to be commended for his initial accomplishments for his first 100 days as councilor of Cebu City and as Committee on Housing chairperson, Although a neophyte in city politics, Alvin continues to bring his civil society experience to his present job. Before he was elected, he served the urban poor. As an elected official, he continues to serve the urban poor.

He shared that for his first 100 days, he has passed 38 resolutions that included the following approved resolutions: a) exempting urban poor residents under the 93-1 province-owned lots (Bgys. Lahug, Busay, Mabolo, Lorega, Capitol site, Apas and Camputhaw) from payment of transfer taxes to the City of Cebu, b) supporting the passage of Magna Carta for the Poor, the Freedom of Information Bill, the BPO Workers' Welfare Bill, c) urging strict compliance to the Expanded Senior Citizens' Act, Magna Carta for PWD, d) proposing Barrier Free-Tourism and Minimum Wage Increase for Workers, and, e) requesting the National Anti-Poverty Commission under the Office of the President to help Cebu City in its poverty-alleviation efforts and ratifying the Memorandum of Agreement between the Cebu city government and participating colleges and universities under the Cebu City Scholarship Program.

Alvin also reported having passed four ordinances: 1) extending the Contract of the Slum Improvement Renewal (SIR) program for 10 years that will benefit some 3,000 families in Barangays Mambaling, Suba, Pasil and Sawang Calero, 2) adopting the Cebu City Shelter Plan for 2011-2016 that will serve as the guide for all housing programs, projects and initiatives in the the City of Cebu, 3) providing additional NGO representative in the Local Housing Board (LHB) , and, 4) Increasing private sector reps in the Cebu City Historical and Arts Commission (CHAC).

Aside from legislative work, Alvin has also rendered direct services to urban poor communities to cope with their eviction problems with the help of the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor and the office of the Cebu City Mayor.

Hoping that his brand of transparent and accountable public service will become the norm among government officials, Alvin realizes, that beyond the first 100 days, he still has "a lot of work to do in the next two years and nine months," and he "looks forward to working with the urban poor in the next 100 days, and all of the 100 days to follow to make sure that our city will be a better place where urban poor rights and welfare are protected and promoted."

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