PAMBANSANG PABAHAY. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. views a replica unit of the Cebu City South Coastal Urban Development Housing Project located at Barangay Basak, San Nicolas, Cebu City on Monday (Feb. 27, 2023). The housing project is part of the government’s Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Program (4PH). (Screengrab from RTVM)

MANILA – The national government is “lucky” to have Jose “Jerry” Acuzar as the secretary of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said on Monday.

Marcos made this remark during the ceremonial ground-breaking ceremony of the Cebu City South Coastal Urban Development Housing Project located at Barangay Basak San Nicolas, which is being implemented under the government’s Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Program (4PH).

In his speech, Marcos praised Acuzar for being ready to go the extra mile to ensure the success of the 4PH, which is reminiscent of the BLISS (Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services) holistic housing program of the President’s mother, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, when she was then minister of human settlements.

“Mabuti na lang at nakahanap tayo ng isa na sanay na sanay na developer dito sa ating Secretary. Sa kanyang pribadong negosyo ay napaka successful lahat ng programa niya. At dinadala niya hanggang dito ‘yan (Fortunately, we found a very skilled developer in the person of our Secretary. He has been successful in all the programs of his private firm and he has now brought this to government),” he said.

Marcos shared about a time Acuzar lent his own heavy equipment for the national government to use on one of its projects.

“Alam niyo po, eto lang ang nakita kong Secretary na pag kulang yung heavy equipment dadalhin niya yung sarili niya, ipapagamit sa’min. Totoo ‘yan, hindi ako nagbibiro. Ilang beses na nangyari ‘yan (You know, he is the only Secretary who will bring his heavy equipment for government use when we lack these. It’s true, I’m not kidding. It has happened several times),” he said.

“Kaya mapalad tayo na mayroon tayo na tumutulong sa’tin na ganyan kahusay, ganyan kadesidido na maging matagumpay yung programa natin (That’s why we’re lucky to have someone who is helping us so well, so determined to make our program successful),” he added. Acuzar, among the officials present during the event, was involved in several infrastructure projects in the country.

He is the chair of the New San Jose Builders, Inc. (NSJBI), the developer of residential and commercial buildings that include the Philippine Arena in Bulacan–the largest indoor arena in the world.

Acuzar, who hails from Balanga town, Bataan province, owns the heritage town Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in the province's Bagac town.

Proper, affordable homes

Meanwhile, Marcos expressed confidence in achieving his administration’s goal to build around 1 million housing units each year during his term of office.

“Sa tulong ng mga masisipag na kawani ng DHSUD, na pinangungunahan ni Secretary Jerry Acuzar, naniniwala akong kayang-kaya natin itong makamit sa ilalim ng aking panunungkulan (With the help of the hardworking DHSUD staff, led by Secretary Jerry Acuzar, I believe we can achieve this under my tenure),” he said.

He said the houses being built for the poor will also be disaster-resilient, affordable and should be near their livelihood, schools, health centers and other establishments.

Marcos, likewise, thanked the local government of Cebu City and other concerned government agencies for their full support of the housing project.

He said the government will also build other infrastructures in the area such as schools, markets, health centers and other business establishments to sustain the community.

In a media interview, Marcos said that in case his administration would not be able to build 1 million housing units by the end of this year — the government will fast-track the construction of housing units in the following years.

“Kung hindi tayo mahahabol this year, papaspas natin yung next year para yung average natin 1 million a year (If we can’t meet the goal this year, we will fast-track construction for next year so that we will still get an average of 1 million a year),” he said.

Around 30,000 housing units will be turned over to Cebu City beneficiaries once completed, according to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).

The initial phase of the project, comprising 10- and 20-story buildings within the 25-hectare development site, is expected to benefit around 8,000 informal settler families (ISFs) and low income earners in the city.

The entire South Coastal Urban Development Project is composed of three phases in different areas in Cebu City, covering a total of 60 hectares.

Government data showed that there is a 6.5 million backlog in housing units in the Philippines.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez, for his part, assured there is sufficient funding for the President's housing program.

Romualdez, along with other local officials of Cebu, including Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama, also graced the ground-breaking rites. (PNA)