Thursday, 5 July 2007

Noli: RP implementing world-class urban policy

By Pia Lee-Brago
Original article at the Philippine Star

The Philippines is implementing a world-class policy on urban growth mostly based on recommendations of the United Nations, according to Vice President Noli de Castro.

Speaking at the launching of the United Nations Population Fund’s State of the World Population Report in Makati, De Castro said key points in the report are very much in line with what the government is doing in the Philippines.

“I am sure that you will be surprised that many of the policies that you recommend have in fact been implemented in the Philippines,” he told UN representatives led by Nilima Nobol and Suneeta Mukherjee and other guests from the international community, local governments and non-government organizations.

De Castro, Housing and Urban Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chairman, said the 100-page report identified three initiatives that stand out in connection with the reality that the poor will make up a large part of future urban growth.

De Castro said the first initiative is the need to adopt policies that support in-city or near-city town relocation and community-led development which are already in place in the country.

“This is precisely the framework that we used in the resettlement program for informal settlers along the right-of-way of the Northrail and the Southrail,” he said.

The same framework will be used in the rest of the government’s resettlement projects, he added.

De Castro emphasized the need for a longer-term and broader vision of the use of urban space and the recommendation to provide minimally-serviced land for housing are not new to the local policy makers.

“In the Philippine housing sector, we refer to this as incremental development,” he said.

“The approach takes the view that once the poor are given security of tenure, they would assume more responsibility for the improvement of their house and the surrounding areas.”

De Castro said incremental development has been proven in the community mortgage program (CMP), one of the government’s banner programs for shelter security that enables urban poor communities to buy the lots where their house are located.

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