housing

Budget 2012: How it all stacks up

Among the nations in the developed world that follow in the Westminster parliamentary tradition, the most eagerly anticipated policy speech by the government is not the state of the nation address but the budget speech.

The budget tackles not only the spending side, you see, but the tax side as well. On budget night, citizens find out if they are to get some form of tax relief. They also look for any additional spending on things they directly benefit from, like schools, hospitals or infrastructure.

The rich nations that make up the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) have varying levels of taxation. The Scandinavians typically tax more and provide a high degree of social insurance and welfare. The Anglo-American nations of the UK, US and Ireland tend to have lower taxes but provide a smaller safety net for their people.

Australia, the nation I am most familiar with seems to have the best of both worlds, with a tax take much lower compared to the Nordic countries but providing a level of social insurance and welfare comparable to them. That is because its tax and spend policies are some of the most progressive in the world.

Australia spends about 16 per cent of GDP on cash benefits (pensions, unemployment insurance, healthcare and community services) compared to an OECD average of just over 19 per cent. It is able to keep this expenditure down by means-testing benefits enabling it to target spending on those that most need it. Its tax take is about 27 per cent of GDP compared to an OECD average of close to 35 per cent. It is the sixth lowest-taxing country in that group.

Rich country, poor country

It is perhaps in this light that we need to focus on the Philippine tax and spend situation. Most poor countries are able to generate only as much as 20% of GDP from their tax systems. Yet the demand for public service is much higher than in advanced economies. The Philippines is no exception.

In 2012, the government projects it will generate about 1.5 trillion pesos worth of revenue out of a domestic economy that is expected to reach 11 trillion or about 13.6% of GDP. In the current year 2011, the government projects to earn 1.4 trillion out of an economy of 9.9 trillion or 14.2% of GDP. In 2010, the ratio was 13.3% (based on DBM papers).

In 2012, due to its low tax take and with a budget of 1.8 trillion, the government will incur a deficit of 286 Billion (up from the original 260 B) or 2.6% of GDP. That is compared to its projected deficit in 2011 of 300 Billion worth 3% of GDP and 314.5 Billion for 2010 or 3.5% of GDP.

Social services which include education, health, housing and land distribution are programmed to consume 556.2 billion pesos or 30% in 2012. That compares with 529 Billion in the current year equal to 31% of the budget in 2011 and 399.3 billion in 2010 worth 26.2% of that year’s total spend.

Among the social services, education takes the largest share. Next year it will amount to 309 billion or about 2.8% of GDP. This is up slightly from 2011 which was 272 Billion or 2.7% of GDP and from 2010 which was 225 billion or 2.5% of GDP. By contrast, Singapore and Thailand spend anywhere from 3.5-4% of GDP on education. Malaysia spends from 5-6%. If we were to match Thailand’s education to GDP ratio, we would need to spend an additional 70 billion on education.

As for health, next year’s budget includes 59 billion or 0.5% of GDP, up from 48 billion in the current year (0.48%) and 36 billion last year (0.39%). In contrast, Singapore spends about 0.9-1.5% of GDP, while Malaysia spends 1.8%, and Thailand 1.2-3%. If we were to match Singapore’s ratio, we would need to spend about 40 billion more on health.

Finally in housing, the 2012 budget contains 14.5 billion worth of spending or 0.13% of GDP compared to the current year’s 21 billion (0.2%) and 12 billion (0.13%) from 2010. Singapore by contrast spends about 1.8-2.5% on housing. Malaysia spends 0.3-0.6%, and Thailand spends 0.5-1%. If we were to simply match Malaysia, we would need to double our current spend by another 14 billion.

Living within our means

Judging from the magnitudes and ratios alone, we can plainly see that the country will continue to lag behind its neighbors in the region when it comes to providing basic social services for its citizens. As a result, it has much higher levels of poverty and inequality and lower levels of human development among the ASEAN-5.

If you take out the possibility of tax reform, “living within our means” confines the budget department to look for savings and improve the structure or mix of spending to improve the quality of the spend rather than the quantity. Past studies have shown that our education spending is already quite progressive, while that of our health sector tends to be regressive with its focus on the tertiary hospitals in urban centers rather than on primary healthcare in the community.

Certainly, there are opportunities to improve the progressivity of our spending program in health. One problem is that our health system follows the model in the US, Europe and Japan which relies of specific contributions. Those who earn more tend to receive higher reimbursements. While in Australia, health expenditures are financed from income taxes, but then are spent in a more egalitarian way by means-testing recipients so that those who earn more tend to pay more out of pockets than those who earn less.

Can afford more

The orthodoxy of constraining the budget because we have to live within our means can of course be challenged by simply asking the question, can society afford to pay more?

From his State of the Nation Address, the president hinted that we probably could afford to pay more when he cited to his own disbelief the close to two million self-employed entrepreneurs and professionals who declare incomes beneath the minimum wage. The BIR has said subsequently that it believes that the current 10 billion raised from these individuals should actually be about 100 billion.

Aside from professionals and self-employed individuals, the corporate sector might also afford to pay more. That is according to a five year old study by Dr. Renato Reside. His work showed that a very low correlation between investments approved by the BOI and PEZA with actual capital formation in all regions except Regions 4 and 7. He concluded that since investments did not materialize companies were simply using their fiscal incentive privileges to engage in tax avoidance. The recipients of such incentives read like a who’s who of Philippine business elite according to Dr Ben Diokno.

Because companies under this scheme are also allowed to sell as much as 50% of the goods they produce to the domestic market, Dr Reside also believes that much revenue is lost. According to him, back in 2004, we were losing as much as 59 billion pesos from revenues on imported capital goods, 135 billion on imported raw materials, 10.5 billion on the use of domestic capital goods, and 44 billion on income tax holidays provided to these so called exporters. If even half of these were recoverd, it would be an additional 125 billion in revenues.

Another form of tax incentive is provided to sin products because of the non-indexation of taxes imposed on them. It is an incentive because every year the prices of these products go up, but the taxes imposed on them don’t. Government revenues are eroded over time. By gradually increasing the taxes along with the rise of prices in general, the additional revenues from sin products estimated to be as much as 70 billion annually could help beef up our infrastructure which in 2012 will be 270 billion a mere 2.5% of expected GDP.

Indeed, from the combined tax breaks given to entrepreneurs, professionals and corporations, our society could afford to bridge the gap in social as well as economic infrastructure. We could become a more inclusive society. With a combination of better policies and stricter enforcement in revenue and incentive granting agencies, by renovating our economic bureaucracy, we could produce a more progressive tax and spend system.

BSAIII action plan on the economy

Economy: Walang Maiiwan!

Action Plan on the Economy

Underlying all the problems and weaknesses of the country and the economy is corruption and the weakening of our democratic institutions. We will restore trust in government by emphasizing good governance and anti-corruption to increase investment, regain people’s trust to pay proper taxes and ensure that the people’s money is well spent.

  • We will uphold the people’s right to information on matters of public concern and vigorously support the enactment of the Freedom of Information Bill in Congress
  • We will ensure transparency and citizen’s participation in crafting and implementing laws, rules and regulations and in monitoring the programs, projects and transactions of government
  • We will put into place a “zero-based” budgeting system to enhance transparency and improve efficiency.
  • Budget allocations for the different agencies of government will be shaped by their performance and their compliance with the reports of the Commission on Audit (COA)
  • Qualification standards, especially on eligibility, will be strictly followed, and at least half of the positions of Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries will be filled by honest and competent career civil servants to ensure continuity and sustainability of effective policies and programs
  • Performances of government agencies and civil servants will be evaluated rationally and systematically through an effective and measurable performance management system to be approved by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

We will have broad based and inclusive economic growth through increased incomes by generating quality jobs and attracting more investments.

  • We will have a government that is not corrupt and is business-friendly, thus lowering the cost of doing business and production in the country.
  • We will reduce red tape, reducing the number of processes required to do business in the country.
  • We will improve infrastructure in transportation and housing, which will generate jobs and also support investments.
  • We will directly target industries with the greatest potential for growth and where the Philippines has a competitive advantage, industries that have already been identified by domestic and foreign business groups and include agribusiness, business process outsourcing, creative industries, infrastructure, manufacturing and logistics, socially responsible mining and tourism and retirement.
  • In the immediate short term, we will take care of the most vulnerable and marginalized sectors of society through programs such as conditional cash transfers dedicated, among others, to keeping healthy young children in school.
  • We will promote entrepreneurship that provides employment, helping small and medium firms with access to credit and diffusion of technologies and skills.
  • We will focus investment expenditure in the very urgent need to invest in education (especially in early childhood education) and in health.
  • We will promote technical/vocational schools to strengthen the labor supply and better match the needs of enterprises.

A clean government will facilitate macroeconomic stability, reigning in the record level deficits of the current administration, and bringing down the debt-to-GDP ratio.

  • We will plug revenue leakages by having competent and trustworthy tax collectors, broadening the tax base.
  • We will instruct DBM to lead an internal government review of all its costs and present a plan to reduce government overhead within six months.
  • We will review policies and programs to enhance productivity and modernize the agricultural sector.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

BSAIII action plan on urban poverty

Covenant with the Urban Poor

Action Plan on Urban Poverty

Our country’s most valuable resource is its people.

Every Filipino has the right to basic human needs, a decent standard of living, and the equal opportunity to develop his or her potentials to the fullest.

In a modern economy every person must be a productive citizen contributing the best of his or her abilities to the development of the country.

However, poverty denies many Filipinos their basic rights and the opportunities to improve their lives and help in nation building. Bad governance and corruption are the primary causes that subvert development and growth.

As candidates for public office, we pledge to build a just society for all Filipinos. We shall vigorously rid our government of corruption and channel these resources to address the basic needs of our people, especially the poor and marginalized.

We shall also implement sustainable solutions through institutionalized policies to combat poverty and provide basic needs, including housing, health, education and jobs for the poor, rather than the “stop gap” measures and empty political gestures of the past and present.

We commit ourselves to the following goals and principles:

No evictions without decent relocation.

We will end illegal forced evictions. We will not allow any public or private authority to evict families and leave them homeless in the street. The government must provide decent relocation, near-city or in-city, if possible, quality housing, adequate basic services and jobs.

We will not tolerate a situation where wage earners have to stay in the city to work while the other members of the family stay in distant relocation centers. This separation weakens and often fractures family life. We will not institutionalize such situations by building sites in the city where they will live apart from their families. As the work force in the cities, the poor, up to the extent possible, should be given the opportunity to stay in the cities.

We will strengthen efforts to achieve balance and equitable urban-rural development and established sustainable livelihood activities in relocation areas to proactively address the problems of in-migration and informal housing.

Provide support for area upgrading and in-city resettlement.

We will shift the emphasis in our housing program to area upgrading and in-city resettlement through the Community Mortgage Program (CMP). We will accelerate CMP and promote its localization (LCMP).

We will strive to proclaim land in favor of as many poor families as possible anchored on the Comprehensive Land Use Plans of their local governments and in consultation with their beneficiary families.

We will order a review of all Presidential Proclamations to determine the status of their implementation. We will not revoke any Presidential Proclamation without thorough study and adequate consultation.

Provide basic services that benefit poor communities.

Over the six years of our term, we will significantly increase the health and education allocations in our national budget. This will bring us closer to the level of spending of our neighboring countries. We will extend health insurance coverage to all urban poor people, put an end to shifting in public schools and provide full set of quality textbooks for our public school children.

We will work with the private sector, utility cooperatives and the donor community to provide access to water and electricity for all urban poor communities. We will encourage our public utilities and government-owned and controlled corporations to incorporate these goals as an integral part of their corporate social responsibility.

Housing budget.

Our desire is to have a government which will provide adequate housing for every Filipino and protect their housing rights.

To this end, we are committed to support and replicate successful housing programs to cover the estimated housing need by providing sufficient funds through the use of the Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Financing Act (CISFA) and other financing sources.

We will also work with the Local Government Units and the private sector, especially those in the financial sector, in coming up with new, innovative and sustainable housing and financial products that will provide access to housing to the marginalized and poor of our country.

We will strengthen government’s partnership with non-government organizations and support people’s initiative to provide the poor with housing.

Jobs.

We will create large-scale public works programs that can generate substantial number of jobs for poor men and women. At the onset of our term, we will emphasize labor-intensive public works programs that can generate significant numbers of jobs for our poor people and give them access to at least the minimum amounts of money, food and dignity needed for their daily survival and well-being. We will help those in the informal sector to avail of relevant incentives, services and benefits, such as access to social security and other forms of assistance.

Recognizing that the primary and most important resource of our country is its people, we will emphasize the creation of jobs that empower the work force, jobs that build capacity and create opportunities for the poor and marginalized. This requires advance training and preparation for appropriate skills needed for modern economy. This also presumes sound elementary and high school education. We promise to focus on generating jobs that will encourage entrepreneurship including-pro poor tourism. We will create an environment that is conducive to growth, competitiveness and full-employment.

Increased cooperation with local government units.

We will work with Local Government Units for the full implementation of the provisions of the UDHA and to empower them to address the housing needs of their constituents through existing provisions in the UDHA such as the provision of land for socialized housing and the inventory of informal settlers within their respective jurisdictions.

To encourage Local Government Units to take the lead in addressing housing needs, we will provide incentives to LGUs like co-financing schemes, technical assistance and other support services so that they could take an active role in socialized housing.

We will institutionalize and strengthen participatory shelter planning at the local level and identify other fund sources to support housing programs particularly for informal settlers at the local level.

Peace.

I will make every effort possible to begin sustainable and uninterrupted peace negotiations in Mindanao. We will not give up this peace-making effort. We will respond to the needs of dislocated/displaced people in Mindanao due to continued conflict between Christian and Muslim brothers.

Post-Ondoy Rehabilitation Program.

We recognize that most people living in risk prone areas are forced by circumstances to live in these areas because government has failed to give them viable alternatives. This is the basic premise of the Post-Ondoy Rehabilitation Program.

We will appoint capable persons to plan and implement intensive post-Ondoy rehabilitation projects. We will explore new approaches that address both the housing and livelihood needs of affected families. We will review Executive Order 854 in consultation with the affected communities and look for appropriate solutions for the families living in Manggahan Floodway and Lupang Arenda. We will ensure that local and international public and private efforts are closely coordinated.

Appointment.

The appointment of reform-minded persons is essential to the attainment of the objective of HUDCC to institute reforms and steer this office and other shelter agencies to become more responsive, efficient and effective agencies in the delivery of housing services to poor families. Cabinet positions and portfolios including the Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries would be distributed among the three major islands (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) without sacrificing competence and trustworthiness criteria.

We will appoint a person with a track record and demonstrated capacity in delivering social housing as HUDCC Chairperson. We will appoint NGO and PO representatives in the boards of the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) and in the council of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council. We will also appoint an NGO representative with observer status to the board of the National Housing Authority (NHA). We will also appoint an NHA General Manager, the SHFC President and Chairman of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor in consultation with civil society groups.

Participation and stakeholdership.

We will emphasize the role of stakeholders in finding solutions to the problems that they face. In fact, the process that we will go through to provide the details of this plan we have presented today will be consultative and transparent.

All these goals with the urban poor will be part of our development agenda and platform to build an inclusive urban society.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

Covenant With The Urban Poor

Our country’s most valuable resource is its people.

Every Filipino has the right to basic human needs, a decent standard of living, and the equal opportunity to develop his or her potentials to the fullest.

In a modern economy every person must be a productive citizen contributing the best of his or her abilities to the development of the country.

However, poverty denies many Filipinos their basic rights and the opportunities to improve their lives and help in nation building. Bad governance and corruption are the primary causes that subvert development and growth.

As candidates for public office, we pledge to build a just society for all Filipinos. We shall vigorously rid our government of corruption and channel these resources to address the basic needs of our people, especially the poor and marginalized.

We shall also implement sustainable solutions through institutionalized policies to combat poverty and provide basic needs, including housing, health, education and jobs for the poor, rather than the “stop gap” measures and empty political gestures of the past and present.

We commit ourselves to the following goals and principles:

No evictions without decent relocation.

We will end illegal forced evictions. We will not allow any public or private authority to evict families and leave them homeless in the street. The government must provide decent relocation, near-city or in-city, if possible, quality housing, adequate basic services and jobs.

We will not tolerate a situation where wage earners have to stay in the city to work while the other members of the family stay in distant relocation centers. This separation weakens and often fractures family life. We will not institutionalize such situations by building sites in the city where they will live apart from their families. As the work force in the cities, the poor, up to the extent possible, should be given the opportunity to stay in the cities.

We will strengthen efforts to achieve balance and equitable urbanrural development and established sustainable livelihood activities in relocation areas to proactively address the problems of in-migration and informal housing.
Provide support for area upgrading and in-city resettlement.

We will shift the emphasis in our housing program to area upgrading and in-city resettlement through the Community Mortgage Program (CMP). We will accelerate CMP and promote its localization (LCMP).

We will strive to proclaim land in favor of as many poor families as possible anchored on the Comprehensive Land Use Plans of their local governments and in consultation with their beneficiary families.

We will order a review of all Presidential Proclamations to determine the status of their implementation. We will not revoke any Presidential Proclamation without thorough study and adequate consultation.
Provide basic services that benefit poor communities.

Over the six years of our term, we will significantly increase the health and education allocations in our national budget. This will bring us closer to the level of spending of our neighboring countries. We will extend health insurance coverage to all urban poor people, put an end to shifting in public schools and provide full set of quality textbooks for our public school children.

We will work with the private sector, utility cooperatives and the donor community to provide access to water and electricity for all urban poor communities. We will encourage or public utilities and governmentowned and controlled corporations to incorporate these goals as an integral part of their corporate social responsibility.
Housing budget.

Our desire is to have a government which will provide adequate housing for every Filipino and protect their housing rights.

To this end, we are committed to support and replicate successful housing programs to cover the estimated housing need by providing sufficient funds through the use of the Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Financing Act (CISFA) and other financing sources.

We will also work with the Local Government Units and the private sector, especially those in the financial sector, in coming up with new, innovative and sustainable housing and financial products that will provide access to housing to the marginalized and poor of our country.

We will strengthen government’s partnership with non-government organizations and support people’s initiative to provide the poor with housing.
Jobs.

We will create large-scale public works programs that can generate substantial number of jobs for poor men and women. At the onset of our term, we will emphasize labor-intensive public works programs that can generate significant numbers of jobs for our poor people and give them access to at least the minimum amounts of money, food and dignity needed for their daily survival and well-being. We will help those in the informal sector to avail of relevant incentives, services and benefits, such as access to social security and other forms of assistance.

Recognizing that the primary and most important resource of our country is its people, we will emphasize the creation of jobs that empower the work force, jobs that build capacity and create opportunities for the poor and marginalized. This requires advance training and preparation for appropriate skills needed for modern economy. This also presumes sound elementary and high school education. We promise to focus on generating jobs that will encourage entrepreneurship including-pro poor tourism. We will create an environment that is conducive to growth, competitiveness and full-employment.
Increased cooperation with local government units.

We will work with Local Government Units for the full implementation of the provisions of the UDHA and to empower them to address the housing needs of their constituents through existing provisions in the UDHA such as the provision of land for socialized housing and the inventory of informal settlers within their respective jurisdictions.

To encourage Local Government Units to take the lead in addressing housing needs, we will provide incentives to LGUs like co-financing schemes, technical assistance and other support services so that they could take an active role in socialized housing.

We will institutionalize and strengthen participatory shelter planning at the local level and identify other fund sources to support housing programs particularly for informal settlers at the local level.
Peace.

I will make every effort possible to begin sustainable and uninterrupted peace negotiations in Mindanao. We will not give up this peace-making effort. We will respond to the needs of dislocated/displaced people in Mindanao due to continued conflict between Christian and Muslim brothers.
Post-Ondoy Rehabilitation Program.

We recognize that most people living in risk prone areas are forced by circumstances to live in these areas because government has failed to give them viable alternatives. This is the basic premise of the Post-Ondoy Rehabilitation Program.

We will appoint capable persons to plan and implement intensive post-Ondoy rehabilitation projects. We will explore new approaches that address both the housing and livelihood needs of affected families. We will review Executive Order 854 in consultation with the affected communities and look for appropriate solutions for the families living in Manggahan Floodway and Lupang Arenda. We will ensure that local and international public and private efforts are closely coordinated.
Appointment

The appointment of reform-minded persons is essential to the attainment of the objective of HUDCC to institute reforms and steer this office and other shelter agencies to become more responsive, efficient and effective agencies in the delivery of housing services to poor families. Cabinet positions and portfolios including the Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries would be distributed among the three major islands (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) without sacrificing competence and trustworthiness criteria.

We will appoint a person with a track record and demonstrated capacity in delivering social housing as HUDCC Chairperson. We will appoint NGO and PO representatives in the boards of the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) and in the council of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council. We will also appoint an NGO representative with observer status to the board of the National Housing Authority (NHA). We will also appoint an NHA General Manager, the SHFC President and Chairman of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor in consultation with civil society groups.
Participation & Stakeholdership.

We will emphasize the role of stakeholders in finding solutions to the problems that they face. In fact, the process that we will go through to provide the details of this plan we have presented today will be consultative and transparent.

All these goals with the urban poor will be part of our development agenda and platform to build an inclusive urban society.

Binay accepts housing post

Binay accepts housing post
By Pia Lee-Brago
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay finally heeded President Aquino’s request for him to join the Cabinet, accepting the chairmanship of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

“After a discussion with the President, I am following his request to take charge of the housing sector as chair of the (HUDCC),” Binay said in a statement issued yesterday.

Prior to his acceptance, Gawad Kalinga had asked Binay to chair the HUDCC, a position previously held by his predecessor, former Vice President Noli de Castro.

“I look forward to implementing the President’s objectives for housing and shelter and working with volunteer organizations like the Gawad Kalinga, with whom I share a common dream of building not just homes but sustainable communities for our people,” Binay said, adding that he is ready to assist the President in his vision for the country and the people.

Aquino told the Malacañang Press Corps during a dinner on Tuesday that he offered five government posts to Binay, including the chairmanship of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), after he was told that the Vice President was reconsidering accepting a Cabinet position.

Joey Salgado, media officer of Binay, said the President was referring to posts offered during their Times Street meeting before the inaugural.

“The Vice President has always maintained that he is ready to assist the President. Such offer is not pre-conditioned on any Cabinet position,” Salgado said.

“It’s not the positions being offered to the Vice President but the need for people who can assist the President. In whatever capacity, the Vice President is ready to help,” he added.

GK founder Tony Meloto and executive director Luis Oquiñena met with Binay to present a national program, Kalinga sa Bayan, that would take care of the poor and the marginalized.

They asked the Vice President to champion this cause.

The program calls for GK’s basic commitment to help five million families, not just with land, homes and food, but in any other way that can ease their fears and suffering and raise the quality of their lives.

Kalinga sa Bayan will seek active engagement with local government units and offer itself as a catalyst for multi-sectoral initiatives to address basic needs and concerns of the poor in their towns and provinces.

“Vice President Binay as mayor of Makati has been an aggressive GK partner for two years and jointly supporting community building efforts of more than 400 informal settlers from Makati now relocated in a beautifully developed subdivision in San Jose del Monte in Bulacan,” GK said.

“Gawad Kalinga wants to share the effectiveness of its experience in addressing poverty in novel and powerful ways. GK believes that Vice President Binay will be a strong and dedicated champion for the poor with his own wisdom and effectiveness born of his experience and achievements in Makati City, which is the premier city of the country,” GK added.

GK said Makati residents, especially those in the lower economic classes, enjoy health, education and senior citizen benefits that are envied by those residing in other towns and cities in the Philippines.

Wanted: Viable government

Binay, on the other hand, expressed confidence that the Aquino administration will allocate more resources to social programs particularly health, education and housing in order to restore the dignity of ordinary Filipinos.

Speaking before a forum at the University of the Philippines-National College of Public Administration and Governance, Binay said that a society whose government neglects its people “can never be viable.”

He said social welfare is a temporary relief from the symptoms of chronic poverty but social programs can cure two of the most pernicious causes of poverty – ill health and ignorance.

“Social programs are not charity; they are a right of every citizen. Social programs go even further. They go beyond rights and entitlements to the core purpose of government,” Binay said.

“A society whose government neglects its sick and its hungry, its young and its seniors, its unemployed and unemployable can never be viable,” he added.

He said “if more resources are not allocated to social programs, the people, especially the youth, will not be able to contribute to the country’s prosperity.”

“If we keep putting the health and education of our young people on hold, all the more we will not attain prosperity because our young people will grow up unable to contribute to our economy in a meaningful way,” the Vice President said.

He stressed that it was the solution he made to bridge the gap between the rich and poor when he was mayor of Makati.

“The only real threat to Makati’s viability was the gap between its very rich and very poor as well as its long-time residents and newcomers, which was growing as fast as, probably even faster than, its economy,” Binay said.

Putting money where your mouth is

He chided his critics who gave political color to his pro-poor programs, saying it is not pampering the poor to get their votes, but the local government had to provide services that citizens deserve.

“It was a textbook social problem with a textbook solution: social programs,” he said.

Makati residents have benefited from Binay’s social programs. Around a million residents have “Yellow cards,” which cardholders can use to avail themselves of free healthcare services from the Ospital ng Makati. Senior citizens (“White” and “Blue” cardholders) also get additional discounts, P2,000 yearly allowance, free movies and birthday cakes.

Around 86,000 indigent families are also enrolled by the city in the national PhilHealth program, while schoolchildren are assured of free elementary and high school education.

“Makati’s social programs were not conceived and carried out to benefit only the poor,” Binay added.

The Vice President said that even the rich, especially the senior citizens, benefited from his programs, an area where the previous administration “miserably failed.”

“As for our senior citizen programs, even those who live in the most exclusive villages avail… Small privileges that they don’t need, but which they appreciate,” he said.

The Vice President said he has realized that “society will still not work if government fails to ensure that every citizen is able to share in the prosperity.”

De Castro: Binay has his hands full

Meanwhile, former vice president De Castro welcomed yesterday Binay’s decision to accept the HUDCC chairmanship.

De Castro said Binay could focus on the social problem of housing and continue the affordable housing programs for employees through the Pag-IBIG Fund.

“I can help him as former HUDCC chairman if he needs my help,” De Castro told The STAR in a telephone interview.

Interviewed over GMA-7, the Vice President said that he also wants to extend government assistance to distressed overseas Filipino workers who are reportedly seeking government.

HUDCC was created by former President Corazon Aquino by virtue of Executive Order No. 90 dated 17 December 1986.

The EO, which also abolished the Ministry of Human Settlements, placed HUDCC under the direct supervision of the Office of the President to serve as the highest policy making body for housing and coordinate the activities of the government housing agencies to ensure the accomplishment of the National Shelter Program.

The Council is composed of key shelter agencies, namely: the National Housing Authority (NHA), the Home Guaranty Corp. (HGC), the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. (HGC), and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB); Pag-IBIG Fund and Social Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC).

The chairman of the HUDCC sits as chairman of the board of the key shelter agencies and exercises supervision over the operations of the NHA, HGC, HLURB, NHMFC, Pag-IBIG and SHFC.

Binay, on the other hand, is an experienced local executive who was appointed by President Cory Aquino as Makati’s acting mayor after the EDSA Revolution.

In 1988, he was elected mayor of Makati and was reelected in 1992 and 1995. After a hiatus of three years, he again served as city mayor from 2001-2010, winning three consecutive elections.

He was also appointed governor of Metro Manila in 1987 in concurrent capacity and was later elected by his peers in Metro Manila as chairman of the Metro Manila Authority.

In 1998, Binay was appointed chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) with Cabinet rank. He was also appointed vice-chairman of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.

The Vice President is also active in civic work. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Makati, R.I. District 3830, and is currently on his third term as the national president of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and was elected Asia-Pacific Regional Scout Committee Chairman on Feb. 8, 2008.