San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, May 23, 2002 (STAR) By Manny Galvez Ė Only eight percent of Pag-Ibig members nationwide have availed of housing loans under the mass housing program provided by the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF).

This was disclosed here by lawyer Romero FS. Quimbo, HDMF president and chief executive officer, who said that the figure represents roughly half million of the 4.8-million Pag-Ibig members nationwide.

Quimbo clarified, however, that this percentage does not necessarily mean that the remaining 92 percent of Pag-Ibig members donít have houses.

"What I am saying is that other Pag-Ibig members may have sought loans from banks or from the SSS (Social Security System) or the GSIS (Government Service Insurance System). Puwedeng may umutang sa kapatid (Maybe the member sought loans from his brother or sister)," he said.

Quimbo said roughly 50 percent of Pag-Ibig members or 2.4 million are confirmed to have no houses at all. He said this scenario has been the reality at the HDMF since 20 years ago.

Quimbo was here as one of the witnesses in the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) among the municipal housing board of San Isidro, the farmer beneficiaries of the "Pabahay sa Magsasaka" of the provincial government and the municipal government and the Vazquez Building Systems Corp. at the Farm Level Grains Center (FLGC) in Barangay Pulo last May 14.

Signatories to the MOA, which covers the construction of an initial 40 typhoon-resistant houses, were Mayor Sonia Lorenzo, Narciso Empaynado representing the farmers and Edgardo Vazquez of (VBSC).

Aside from Quimbo, others who witnessed the signing were Governor Tomas Joson III, and Margarito Teves, president and CEO of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

The Land Bank earlier approved the release of P180,000 loans to an initial eight farmer recipients. Aside from Empaynado, the first batch of beneficiaries were Jose San Diego Sr., Julian Fermin, Jessie Santiago, Sesinando Santiago, Bonifacio Reyes, Emerito Patiag and Romulo dela Cruz.

The P900-million project, which will benefit 5,000 Novo Ecijano farmers in the province was launched with the signing of a first MOA among the municipal government, the HDMF and the Land Bank last Feb. 5 at the LBP main office at Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati City. Construction of the 40 housing units was supposed to start April 5 but this was later moved to May 14 with the signing of the new MOA.

The houses that will be built are typical Spanish-European one-story, bungalow-type pre-fabricated concrete houses with a floor area of 36 square meters each, are 3.5 to four meters high and equipped with a toilet and bathroom. Each house can be finished in three weeks by eight people at eight man-hours a day.

Joson said that the provincial government has earmarked a monthly standby fund of P500,000 as project guaranty. He said that private funds can also be tapped to ensure the success of the project.

Quimbo said that despite the low number of Pag-Ibig members that avail of housing loans, members are receiving a big boost under the program of the Arroyo administration.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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