COTABATO CITY – The Office of Deputy Minority Floor Leader MP Rasol Mitmug, Jr., held a Stakeholders Dialogue on Housing at Pagana Kutawato Restaurant today, April 6, 2022.
Various homeowners’ associations (HOAs) and urban poor representatives were present to air their concerns and queries to the Ministry of Human Settlements and Development (MHSD). MP Mitmug introduced MHSD Minister Hamid Barra and facilitated the open dialogue.
The urban poor population in Cotabato City consists of both Muslims and Christians and only a portion have received housing through national-funded programs. Atty. Anwar Malang, convenor for the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy and long-time advocate for the urban poor community, summarized their immediate concerns:
(1) Request for socialized housing (either through housing infrastructure or purchase of private lots)
(2) Livelihood (if they would be relocated to other areas)
(3) Loss of their homes due to road-widening projects
(4) Lack of access to clean water
(5) Lack of road access (those living in swampy/ rural areas)
Aside from giving updates on the Ministry’s ongoing programs, Minister Barra relayed that the programs would be inclusive to all Bangsamoro residents. He encouraged the organizations to submit their respective concerns and proposals as these could also be pursued with international development partners, aside from the programs of the BARMM government.
Director-General Esmael Ebrahim also assured them that the Ministry would be pursuing a larger budget for the next fiscal year (2023). Ebrahim explained that as much as the Ministry would like to fast-track the implementation of said projects, they still had to comply with government procedures such as the inspection of the land and securing permits and clearances from the local government units, which would require time.
At the closing, MP Mitmug expressed his thanks to the Ministry for taking the time to respond to the concerns of the HOAs and to the organizations present for the productive discussion. Mitmug informed them his office would extend assistance in endorsing their proposals to the Ministry and to the Parliament, if need be. Some of the organizations that were present included: Pagbabago HOA, Samaka HOA, Inc., Divine Mercy Organization, St. Joseph HOA, and Tanghal Bridge HOA. Also in attendance from MHSD were Director-General Esmael Ebrahim and Chief of Staff Ajeeb Barra.