Vice President Jejomar C. Binay welcomed Thursday the Senate’s approval of Senate Bill 3199 seeking to create the Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD), saying the creation of the housing department will be President Benigno Aquino III’s “legacy to the Filipino people.”

                  “The housing sector is saddled with a huge housing need estimated at 3.6 million units as of the end of 2010, and with the steady growth of the population, this number is projected to rise to 5.7 million by 2016. The creation of DHUD will help us address this need more efficiently and effectively,” he said.

                  Binay said that the creation of the housing department will streamline government functions as DHUD merges the functions of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). He added that DHUD also strengthens adjudication and enforcement with the conversion of HLURB into a Commission.

                  He added that “the Department’s lean and mean organization will result in the wider participation and investment from the private sector.”

                  The Vice President is the Chairman of HUDCC and HLURB.

                  He stressed that the creation of the DHUD will not entail any additional cost to the government “since the budgetary approval for the new department will be sourced from the current budget allocations of HUDCC and HLURB.”

                  “Budget increases or decreases in succeeding years will be left to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), just like all other departments in the government,” Binay said.

                  He added that the accountability and responsibility of the Secretary and Undersecretaries clearly defined in the DHUD bill, which is in line with President Aquino’s “daang matuwid” policy.

                  According to the bill, DHUD will be “the primary national government entity responsible for the management of housing and urban development."

                  Moreover, the Vice President said during the 6th Philippine Real Estate Festival (PREF) Thursday that “the creation of the department is timely as it will be crucial in reaping the potential of our housing and property sector for our country.”

                  “The proposed department, by closely working with environmental planners, builders and community beneficiaries, shall ensure a holistic strategy in addressing access to and affordability of the human basic needs,” he said during his keynote.

                  The DHUD Bill is one of the legislative measures in the first set of priority bills of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC). It was approved on third reading and final reading Tuesday.

                  Binay said he is optimistic that the Lower House’s version of the bill would be passed by August.

                  “With the continued support of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Sonny Belmonte, we look forward to the Bicameral Conference Committee to harmonize the two versions,” he said.