House OKs bill on land expropriation for mass housing

By Delon Porcalla

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The measure will enable expropriating agencies or local government units to identify and prioritize the particular areas to be acquired for socialized housing to reduce the country’s massive housing backlog. File

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a bill that will strengthen the government’s right to expropriate land for mass housing. 

House Bill 159 of Quezon City Rep. Christopher Belmonte got unanimous approval from the House plenary on Wednesday night. It allows expropriation of land even if the ownership issue is still under court litigation.

The measure will enable expropriating agencies or local government units to identify and prioritize the particular areas to be acquired for socialized housing to reduce the country’s massive housing backlog.

“The bill relaxes the rules that restrict expropriation of private land as a mode of acquisition to be pursued only as a last resort,” said Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, chairman of the House committee on housing and urban development. 

The bill will also address the country’s worsening housing problem since this will relax rules of land acquisition to boost the government’s socialized housing program. 

HB 159 seeks to amend Sections 9, 10, and 11 of Republic Act 7279, otherwise known as the “Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.” 

Under the bill, the lands that may be acquired for socialized housing are the following:  

• Those owned by the government or any of its subdivisions, instrumentalities or agencies, including government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries;

• Alienable lands of the public domain;

• Unregistered or abandoned and idle lands;

• Those within the declared Areas for Priority Development, Zonal Improvement Program sites and Slum Improvement and Resettlement Programs sites which have not yet been acquired;

• Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services or BLISS sites which have not yet been acquired; and

• Privately owned lands.

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