Creation of Urban Poor office sought
The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, approved on first reading a proposed ordinance creating the Baguio City Urban Poor Affairs office and appropriating funds for the said purpose.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Leandro Yangot, Jr. stated that the said office shall be composed of the administrative and planning division, legal division, engineering division and community organizing division.
Under the proposed ordinance, any person who shall falsely represent himself or herself to be a homeless citizen when in fact he or she is not within the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act shall be prohibited.
Further, any person who shall organize a squatting syndicate to the prejudice of the government and private owners shall also be prohibited.
The ordinance added that any person misrepresenting to be a qualified beneficiary under RA 7279 when he or she knows for a fact that he or she has land of his own shall be prohibited by the said measure.
On the other hand, any public official, whether elected or appointed, who shall organize, assist, able and who shall participate in the furtherance of forming squatting syndicates shall be prohibited and it shall also be prohibited for any public utility to refuse application for connection of public utility services such as electricity and water by potential urban poor beneficiaries duly certified and attested by the said office.
The ordinance mandated the appropriation of P5 million annually and shall be included in the annual budget of the local government following the enactment of the measure and the succeeding years to ensure the continuous operation of the said office that was created.
However, the utilization of the said funding shall be limited to 40 percent for personnel and maintenance and other operating expenses and 60 percent for expenses for the various programs and projects of the said office.
As mandated by the general welfare clause of RA 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines and RA 7279, the ordinance stipulated that there is a need for the local government to ensure the proper implementation of the provisions of RA 7279 in the city level by establishing a city urban poor affairs office.
Section 6 of RA 7279 stated that there shall be a national urban poor development and housing framework to be formulated by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) under the direction of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) in coordination with all local government units and other concerned public and private sectors within one year form the effectivity of the said law.
The framework shall refer to the comprehensive plan for urban and organizable areas aimed at achieving the objectives of the program. In the formulation of the framework, a review and rationalization of distinct town and land use plans, housing programs, and all other objectives and activities of government agencies and the private sectors which may substantially affect urban land use patterns, transportation and public utilities, infrastructure, environment and population movement shall be undertaken with the concurrence of the local government units concerned. – Dexter A. See