Inspired by the late Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s public housing initiative, touted as the best public housing project in the world, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Domagoso hopes to replicate it “even at 90 percent.”
“Lee Kuan Yew did it very well,” said Domagoso, who has repeatedly asserted there’s nothing wrong to copy programs if it would be for the good of the people and the country.
During the Samahang Plaridel media forum at the Manila Hotel, he expressed hope that “in God’s graces, he would have the strength, the knowledge and the capability” to provide decent housing with dignity for poor Manila residents.
Saying the houses will be given for free to intended beneficiaries, Moreno stressed the government should be spending for, and not earning from, the public.
He downplayed fears that giving out free housing might encourage laziness among the beneficiaries.
The mayor said that after providing housing and jobs, discipline must be inculcated in the minds of the beneficiaries, like the need to send their children to school, among other issues.
“We really have to develop. Mr. Yew did it ―in a full ecosystem, in a full cycle,” stressed Domagoso, who also acknowledged it would take time before the city government can realize this dream for Manileños.
Domagoso said he is dead set on building “massive housing” and not just mass housing, which he said carries a double meaning. He likened mass housing to houses for doves or birds.
“Parang bahay ng kalapati, just for the heck of saying there’s housing,” said Domagoso, who added these are usually 18-square-meter units.
Having once lived among the squatters of Tondo district, Domagoso said he knew the feeling of living in a limited space, thus the city government is designing 42-square-meter houses for the Vitas and Del Pan residents who are indigents.
He said the house will sport two bedrooms, allowing parents and children to sleep separately.
“I grew up in a squatter [area], I know this. I heard this [cases when children were being molested by their own fathers]. And we don’t want to face this problem in the future,” related Domagoso.
Asked when they will start constructing the houses in Vitas and Del Pan, both in Tondo, Domagoso said it would depend on the availability of funds. He said the building of these houses was not provided for in the budget under the previous city administration.
“I can’t promise because what we have is old money, old budget. In the previous plan, no plan at all for this. I don’t know when to start,” admitted Domagoso, as he also cited the findings of the COA that the past administration is missing P4.3 billion in funds.
But once fresh funds start coming in due to city hall’s efficient collection of taxes, Domagoso said he is hopeful they can start building the houses by 2020.
The mayor, who was a three-time councilor and a vice mayor, also said he does not believe sending the informal settlers to faraway places is the solution to illegal squatting.
“So we will embark on the so-called in-city vertical housing, where homes will be built on open spaces,” said Domagoso.
He related that the National Housing Authority now allows vertical housing up to 14 floors, unlike before when it was limited to only five floors.
This will be among the long-term vertical development program of his administration, Domagoso said. He said they will invest the funds to be generated from the local government’s shares from taxes to be collected by national institutions and offices within its territory.
This was based on a Supreme Court ruling which takes effect by 2022. In effect, the Manila city government will have a windfall of about P90 billion from the Bureau of Customs alone, he noted.
Domagoso said in taking every window opportunity for the city, he hopes Manila will overtake its adjacent cities in terms of economic activities by 2022.
When questioned on how he would deal with the reclamation projects entered into by the previous Estrada administration, Domagoso said he wanted to focus first on inland development.
“We are prioritizing inland since there are so many things to do here. We are doing so many things in the city,” he said.
“If the national government gives us the go-signal for these projects, then we will accede to it. But it has to go through a process ― it must be safe and feasible. That would be an added bonus to us,” said Domagoso.
He lamented how the previous administration turned their backs on the problems on inland developments and sold the minds of the public to building a new island in Manila Bay to spur development.
“They lost the opportunity to clean, clear, develop and stimulate the inland of the city,” said the young mayor, who also denied he would seek the presidency in 2022.
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