CREBA intensifies lobbying for affordable urban homes

The country’s largest organization of key real estate industry players is urging all its members nationwide to seek the support of their respective legislators for a bill that will provide affordable homes to employees in urban areas, or near their places of work.

The bill proposed by the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations (CREBA) will thus lessen the daily suburban commute, traffic congestion, fuel consumption, vehicular pollution and urban sprawl,  while optimizing land use, manpower productivity and  business efficiency, all contributing to economic growth and environmental development.

This bill, which forms part of a 5-point agenda that CREBA approved in Iloilo last year to help address the country’s 5.5-million housing backlog, will be presented in its final form at their grand national convention in Bacolod City on Oct. 7-10.

CREBA national convention chairman Florante C. Ofrecio said support for the bill could also come from their members abroad and their relatives in the Philippines.  “Many have confirmed their attendance in the CREBA convention to signify their support,” Ofrecio said.

The bill, according to CREBA national chairman Charlie A.V. Gorayeb, was crafted to make the current housing laws work by ridding the Urban Development and Housing Act (Republic Act 7279) of the stumbling blocks to socialized housing production.

“Section 18 of RA 7279, which sets forth the balanced housing program, mandates developers of subdivisions to build socialized housing equivalent to 20% of their total project area or cost.  This law, however, does not include owners and developers of condominium projects, thus measures have been filed in both houses of Congress to include them.  But to CREBA, the required 20% quota is not reasonable and realistic to effectively elicit compliance from subdivision and condominium developers.  Reducing this quota to 15% for subdivisions and 5% for condominiums will make it feasible,” Gorayeb pointed out.

CREBA national president Noel Toti M. Carino says any other mode of compliance with this quota must add to the socialized and economic housing stock to help reduce the 5.5-million backlog, which is largely accounted for by the masses.

“Such modes of compliance with the quota include development of new settlements, joint-venture initiatives between a real estate developer and either the local government units, any of the key shelter agencies, or another developer; and development of socialized medium-rise condominium buildings.  Any alternative compliance not yielding any new housing unit should not be allowed or encouraged,” Carino explained.

CREBA likewise proposes a new socialized housing package for urban medium-rise buildings or condominiums with a minimum floor area of 40 sqm per unit to qualify them for tax incentives under the current law, but with price ceilings to be determined solely by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and updated every five years in consultation with the National Economic Development Authority.

And to do away with the “superfluous and repetitive requirement for a BIR ruling for every project,” CREBA wants the Socialized Housing Certification being issued by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board to suffice as the only requirement for all the pertinent issuances of the Bureau of Internal Revenue to the Registry of Deeds.

“Constructing vertical communities will stir up the economy while creating opportunities from the scarce and rising cost of urban lands – which remain to be the center of business activities, employment, livelihood, national productivity, education, healthcare and governance – and where demand for decent and affordable housing will always be at its peak,” Gorayeb said of the bill, or Point Number 2 in CREBA’s 5-point agenda.


Manila Bulletin | August 28, 2015