DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The failure of the National Housing Authority (NHA) in the last decades to build an “acceptable homes” for its beneficiaries is now the strength of the agency.
General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. admitted “I am a witness to those failures and my heart bleeds because I am leading the agency which many people do not trust in terms of providing them a durable and comfortable homes, as the new agency head, I take all the blame-that is a fact because I am now the head of the agency which people least love.”
Past is past, he added but “Errors must be corrected in a much as we can because it involves money from the sweat of their browse.”
Escalada who made rounds and conducted an inventory of all housing projects around the country started his quest for solutions from the beneficiaries of the Zamboanga siege, to Sendong, to Yolanda to AFP/PNP housing, and then Pablo.
The need to conduct an inventory was necessary, he added “I need to know where the NHA failed for me to know where to start. How can you turn the failure to success? when we don;t know where are we now”
Asked how he felt seeing those projects failed? He was speechless for seconds, and later said “When the President administered my oath, he gave specific instructions and it is always on my mind as he said “Jun, ayusin mo ang NHA (Fix the NHA), don’t give me headache, make every NHA housing a home for a Filipino family.”
Given the order, Escalada, who for decades worked as Davao City Human Resources Head and the City Planning Administrator, he stressed “I need to turn the challenges of the past into an opportunity, I need to bring back the years when NHA houses were the most sought units in terms of durability and affordability, I cannot fail the President, I cannot abuse every single
centavo which an NHA housing applicant spend to have a home.”
The NHA he said, is now working to establish a housing plan for the country as it is on the process of finishing the unfinished projects from Zamboanga siege to Pablo.
The NHA is now establishing a satellite map for all existing, on-going and upcoming housing projects, it will be equipped with geohazard maps and Geographic Information System (GIS)..
A housing map which according to Escalada will give NHA beneficiaries and the government information about their projects at a glance, soil characteristics, topography and zoning maps of the area is available.
In the past, he said, many housing projects located in areas more dangerous than the identified dangers zones “Because there was no evaluation before the land development started, now we have to identify location because we cannot afford to build projects in a danger zone because if we do that we are not solving the problem– we are complicating the it and worse, putting peoples lives at risk.”
Aside from making corrections on the failed projects, Escalada said the biggest challenge as an agency “Is to build temporary shelters for the Marawi IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), we were given 90 days by the President, we need to deliver it.. not just a shelter but a comfortable and liveable one-equipped with water, light and the necessary house partitions, We need to do it as prescribed.”
At first the NHA was apprehensive developers might shun away due to the peace and order condition in the area “But we were surprised they came and helped us, we worked together under the ambit of Task Force Bangon Marawi, we are working as one and we made it, we turned over 500 units on December 27, 2017 but the weather intervened the President failed to land in the village of Sagonsongan, but we proceeded with the turn-over.”
Starting December 2017, the NHA has implemented a scheme, they turn-over NHA housing projects to the local government units, for the LGU to accept qualified applicants in their areas .
For the unfinished housing projects, Escalada emphasized “I already called on the contractors to finish their projects or they run the risk of getting blacklisted.”
The Marawi temporary shelter is a showcase of the administrations temporary shelters “The Marawi temporary shelter is a template–A template in terms of the project as prescribed and a template on how various agencies of this administration work together in an emergency situation.”
For 2018 onward, Escalada said “We will be Turning failure to success, maximixing our resources” as he added “This time, at the NHA, we make sure our 2018 will be a year of redemption, we would like the Filipino people to know, we turn failure to success, we are building a liveable and comfortable homes. To our critics, we thank them for their vigilance — we are here to rebuild the trust which the agency lost.”-Editha Z. Caduaya