Drilon underscores glaring disparity: P3.98-B for housing sector, P9.5-B for confi and intel funds

With millions in housing backlog, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon criticized the government’s decision to allocate a measly P4 billion for the housing sector while it pours a total of P9.6 billion into confidential and intelligence funds in the 2021 National Expenditures Program (NEP).

“With that huge backlog, I do not see the logic why we need more confidential and intelligence funds than budget to give our people decent and safe homes,” Drilon said in a statement on Wednesday.

It has been reported that the housing backlog is currently at 6.5 million and could balloon to 12 million by 2030, or 22 million by 2040 if not addressed.

The minority leader also said the “P4 billion budget of the housing sector is only 20% of the P19.3 billion appropriation for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).”

He earlier flagged the P19.3 billion supposedly for anti-insurgency programs as a lumpsum that can be used in aid of the 2022 elections.

“The disparity is glaring and it saddens us that the 2021 budget does not address the needs of hundreds of poor Filipino families who live along esteros in Metro Manila and various parts of the country, putting their lives at risk particularly during this rainy season,” Drilon lamented.

“What happens to the principle of social justice here?” the former justice secretary added. At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, on the proposed 2021 budget for the housing sector led by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Drilon, along with other senators, underscored the need to increase the budget of the housing sector, which is proposed to receive P4 billion for next year, equivalent only to 0.08 of the proposed P4.5 trillion national budget for 2021 or 0.02% of the country’s GDP.

“The total intelligence funds of the whole government under the 2021 budget is over P5 billion. The confidential fund is P4.5 billion. The intelligence and confidential funds therefore amount to at least P9.5 billion in the entire budget. Contrast that with the P4 billion budget in the housing sector,” Drilon stressed.

“I am making this statement preliminarily to show the priorities that we are confronted with. There is a consensus, at least among senators attending this hearing, that the housing sector needs assistance because of the very meager budget that is being assigned to you,” Drilon said.

The DHSUD earlier reported that it needs at least P30 billion a year, over a period of 20 years to construct 6.7 million houses and address the housing backlog, roughly 3 million of which are in the socialized and subsidized housing category.

Under the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, the government targets 1.6 million for direct housing assistance and around the same number is also targeted for indirect housing assistance, he noted.

With the measly budget given to the housing sector, it is unlikely that the targets will be met.

The Senate chief fiscalizer said the Senate committee on finance should increase the budget of the National Housing Authority and other housing agencies in order to address the housing backlog.