Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992

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The Lina Law is currently on center stage by reason of the demolition[1] in Parañaque City that turned violent, resulting to the death of one person[2] and injuries to at least thirty-six people.[3] For more than an hour on 23 April 2012, residents hurled huge chunks of rocks, molotov cocktails and other projectiles at dozens of riot policemen, some of whom replied with gunfire and tear gas canisters or by hitting the protesters with batons.[4] Tension in the area remains high days after the incident.[5] Why would the Lina Law be discussed in relation to the Parañaque City demolition? What is the Lina Law?


Contents

What is the Lina Law

The Lina Law -- an informal name lifted from the law's author, former Senator Jose "Joey" D. Lina -- is the common name used when referring to Republic Act No. 7279 (full text). This law is formally known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992. RA 7279 is entitled "An Act to Provide for a Comprehensive and Continuing Urban Development and Housing Program, Establish the Mechanism for its Implementation, and for Other Purposes." RA 7279 is a consolidation of House Bill No. 34310 and Senate Bill No. 234, signed into law by President Corazon C. Aquino on 24 March 1992.

The Lina Law is the governing law on the subject matter of "squatting" in the Philippines.[6] It is the law that governs the local expropriation of property for purposes of urban land reform and housing.[7] It also governs the eviction and demolition of informal settlers. This will be discussed in more detail below.


Professional squatters and squatting syndicates

As Philippine law now stands, squatting is no longer a crime. Squatting used to be a crime under Presidential Decree No. 772 (Penalizing Squatting and Other Similar Acts), issued by President Ferdinand E. Marcos on 20 August 1975. PD 772 made it a crime for any "person who, with the use of force, intimidation or threat, or taking advantage of the absence or tolerance of the landowner, succeeds in occupying or possessing the property of the latter against his will for residential commercial or any other purposes." PD 772 was subsequently repealed by Republic Act No. 8368, also known as the Anti-Squatting Law Repeal Act of 1997, which took effect in 27 December 1997.[8] RA 8368 was enacted solely for the purpose of expressly repealing PD 772.[9]

Remedies in case of squatting

The repeal of the Anti-Squatting Law, however, does not mean that people now have the unbridled license to illegally occupy lands they do not own.[10] The legislature considered RA 8368 as a major piece of legislation on the country’s anti-poverty program[11] as it sought to confront the perennial problem of poverty at its root, abolish an otherwise inutile and oppressive law, and pave the way for a genuine urban housing and land reform program. Senate records reveal that it is the manifest intent of the authors of R.A. 8368 to decriminalize squatting but does not encourage or protect acts of squatting on somebody else’s land.[12] The law is not intended to compromise the property rights of legitimate landowners.[13]

Recourse may be had in cases of violation of their property rights, such as those provided for in Republic Act No. 7279 (Urban Development and Housing Act) or the Lina Law, which penalizes professional squatters and squatting syndicates, who commit nefarious and illegal activities;[14] the Revised Penal Code providing for criminal prosecution in cases of Trespass to Property,[15] Occupation of Real Property or Usurpation of Real Rights in Property,[16] and similar violations, and, cases for forcible entry and unlawful detainer under the Rules of Court,[17] as well as civil liability for damages under the Civil Code.[18]

Criminal sanctions against professional squatters and squatting syndicates

The Lina Law not only allows a summary eviction and demolition of professional squatters,[19] it also imposes criminal penalties against them. "Professional squatters" are "individuals or groups who occupy lands without the express consent of the landowner and who have sufficient income for legitimate housing. The term shall also apply to persons who have previously been awarded homelot or housing units by the Government but who sold, leased, transferred the same to settle illegally in the same place or in another urban area, and non-bona fide occupants and intruders of lands reserved for socialized housing."[20]

Violators shall be punished by imprisonment of not more than six (6) years or a fine of not less than Five Thousand Pesos (PhP5,000) but not more than One Hundred Thousand Pesos (PhP100,000), or both, at the discretion of the court.[21]


Who are beneficiaries of the Lina Law

"Underprivileged and homeless citizens," who are the beneficiaries of said law, are the "individuals or families residing in urban and urbanizable areas whose income or combined household income falls within the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority and who do not own housing facilities. This shall include those who live in makeshift dwelling units and do not enjoy security of tenure."[22]


Eviction or Demolition discouraged

Eviction or demolition as a practice is discouraged under the Lina Law.[23]

When eviction or demolition allowed

However, eviction or demolition may be allowed under the following situations:[24]

(a) When persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks, and playgrounds;
(b) When government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be implemented; or
(c) When there is a court order for eviction and demolition.

When summary eviction allowed

The Lina Law allows a summary eviction and demolition against professional squatters.[25] "Professional squatters" are "individuals or groups who occupy lands without the express consent of the landowner and who have sufficient income for legitimate housing. The term shall also apply to persons who have previously been awarded homelot or housing units by the Government but who sold, leased, transferred the same to settle illegally in the same place or in another urban area, and non-bona fide occupants and intruders of lands reserved for socialized housing."[26]

The local government units, in cooperation with the Philippine National Police, the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), and the PCUP-accredited urban poor organization in the area, shall adopt measures to identify and effectively curtail the nefarious and illegal activities of professional squatters and squatting syndicates, as herein defined. Any person or group identified as such shall be summarily evicted and their dwellings or structures demolished, and shall be disqualified to avail of the benefits of the Program. A public official who tolerates or abets the commission of the abovementioned acts shall be dealt with in accordance with existing laws.[27]


Land Use, Inventory, Acquisition and Disposition

The Program shall cover all lands in urban and urbanizable areas, including existing areas for priority development, zonal improvement sites, slum improvement and resettlement sites, and in other areas that may be identified by the local government units as suitable for socialized housing.[28]

Inventory of lands and identification of sites for Socialized Housing

RA 7279 required all city and municipal governments shall conduct an inventory of all lands within their respective localities. The inventory shall include: (a) Residential lands; (b) Government-owned lands, whether owned by the National Government or any of its subdivisions, instrumentalities, or agencies, including government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries; (c) Unregistered or abandoned and idle lands; and (d) Other lands.[29] A copy of the inventory, which shall be updated every three years, is given t the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HLURB) for planning purposes.[30]

After the inventory, the local government units, in coordination with the National Housing Authority (NHA), the HLURB, the National Mapping Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), and the Land Management Bureau, shall identify lands for socialized housing and resettlement areas for the immediate and future needs of the underprivileged and homeless in the urban areas, taking into consideration the degree of availability of basic services and facilities, their accessibility and proximity to job sites and other economic opportunities, and the actual number of registered beneficiaries.[31]

Power of eminent domain

The power to acquire property under RA 7279 is an exercise of a local government unit's power of eminent domain, a power which is subject to strict limitations.[32] Local government units have no inherent power of eminent domain and can exercise it only when expressly authorized by the legislature.[33] Eminent domain or the power to expropriate is granted[34] to LGUs by virtue of Republic Act No. 7160, also known as the Local Government Code of 1991.

The exercise by local government units of the power of eminent domain is not absolute.[35] There are two legal provisions which limit the exercise of eminent domain:(1) no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws;[36] and (2) private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.[37] In fact, the Local Government Code[38] itself explicitly states that such exercise must comply with the provisions of the Constitution and pertinent laws.[39]

Among the limitations provided by law, including Republic Act No. 7279, relate to (1) the order of priority in acquiring land for socialized housing and (2) the resort to expropriation proceedings as a means to acquiring it.[40] Compliance with these conditions is mandatory because these are the only safeguards of oftentimes helpless owners of private property against what may be a tyrannical violation of due process when their property is forcibly taken from them allegedly for public use.[41]

Priorities in the acquisition of land

Lands for socialized housing shall be acquired in the following order:[42]

(a) Those owned by the Government or any of its subdivisions, instrumentalities, or agencies, including government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries;
(b) Alienable lands of the public domain;
(c) Unregistered or abandoned and idle lands;

(d) Those within the declared Areas or Priority Development, Zonal Improvement Program sites, and Slum Improvement and Resettlement Program sites which have not yet been acquired;

(e) Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services or BLISS which have not yet been acquired; and
(f) Privately-owned lands.

Where on-site development is found more practicable and advantageous to the beneficiaries, the priorities mentioned in this section shall not apply. The local government units shall give budgetary priority to on-site development of government lands.[43]

Private lands rank last in the order of priority for purposes of socialized housing. In other words, private lands cannot be expropriated until all the prior options are exhausted. [44]

Modes of land acquisition

The modes of acquiring lands for purposes of RA 7279 shall include, among others, community mortgage, land swapping, land assembly or consolidation, land banking, donation to the Government, joint venture agreement, negotiated purchase, and expropriation.

Expropriation

Expropriation proceedings may be resorted to only after the other modes of acquisition are exhausted.[45] Where expropriation is resorted to, parcels of land owned by small property owners shall be exempted for purposes of the Lina Law.[46]

Expropriation of idle lands

All idle lands in urban and urbanizable areas shall be expropriated and shall form part of the public domain. These lands shall be disposed of or utilized by the Government for such purposes that conform with their land use plans. Expropriation proceedings shall be instituted if, after the lapse of one (1) year following receipt of notice of acquisition, the owner fails to introduce improvements as defined in Section 3(f) hereof, except in the case of force majeure and other fortuitous events. Exempted from this ownership of which is subject of a pending litigation.[47] The term "idle hands" refers to "non-agricultural lands in urban and urbanizable areas on which no improvements, as herein defined, have been made by the owner, as certified by the city, municipal or provincial assessor."[48]


Socialized Housing

Socialized housing shall be the primary strategy in providing shelter for the underprivileged and homeless. However, if the tenurial arrangement in a particular socialized housing program is in the nature of leasehold or usufruct, the same shall be transitory and the beneficiaries must be encouraged to become independent from the Program within a given period of time, to be determined by the implementing agency concerned.[49]

Socialized Housing, defined

"Socialized housing" refers to housing programs and projects covering houses and lots or homelots only undertaken by the Government or the private sector for the underprivileged and homeless citizens which shall include sites and services development, long-term financing, liberalized terms on interest payments, and such other benefits in accordance with the provisions of this Act.[50]

Eligibility Criteria for Socialized Housing Program Beneficiaries

To qualify for the socialized housing program, a beneficiary:[51] (a) Must be a Filipino citizen; (b) Must be an underprivileged and homeless citizen, as defined by RA 7279; (c) Must not own any real property whether in the urban or rural areas; and (d) Must not be a professional squatter or a member of squatting syndicates.

Disposition of Lands for Socialized Housing

The National Housing Authority, with respect to lands belonging to the National Government, and the local government units with respect to the other lands within their respective localities, shall coordinate with each other to formulate and make available various alternative schemes for the disposition of lands to the beneficiaries of the Program. These schemes shall not be limited to those involving transfer of ownership in fee simple but shall include lease, with option to purchase, usufruct or such other variations as the local government units or National Housing Authority may deem most expedient in carrying out the purposes of this Act.[52] A scheme for public rental housing may be adopted.[53]

Disposition of lands, including any improvements thereon, owned by the National Government or any of its agencies or instrumentalities and/or the local government units through direct negotiated sale to the occupants thereof without need of public bidding shall be allowed subject to the following conditions:[54]

a) The lands are within a residential zone as classified by the local government unit concerned;

b) The lands are certified to be for socialized housing purpose by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council;

c) The occupants are qualified beneficiaries in accordance with Section 16 and are registered as such in accordance with Section 17 of this Act;

d) The cost of said lands shall be made affordable to the beneficiaries, taking into consideration their income and land valuation required in Section 13 of this Act;

e) Any subsequent disposition of the said land shall be subject to the limitations provided in Section 14 of this Act; and

f) The occupants have resided on the said lands subject to the prohibitions provided in Section 30 of this Act.

Valuation of Lands for Socialized Housing

Equitable land valuation guidelines for socialized housing shall be set by the Department of Finance on the basis of the market value reflected in the zonal valuation, or in its absence, on the latest real property tax declaration. For sites already occupied by qualified Program beneficiaries, the Department of Finance shall factor into the valuation the blighted status of the land as certified by the local government unit or the National Housing Authority.[55]

Limitations on the Disposition of Lands for Socialized Housing

No land for socialized housing, including improvements or rights thereon, shall be sold, alienated, conveyed, encumbered or leased by any beneficiary of this Program except to qualified Program beneficiaries as determined by the government agency concerned. Should the beneficiary unlawfully sell, transfer, or otherwise dispose of his lot or any right thereon, the transaction shall be null and void. He shall also lose his right to the land, forfeit the total amortization paid thereon, and shall be barred from the benefits under this Act for a period of ten (10) years from the date of violation. In the event the beneficiary dies before full ownership of the land is vested on him, transfer to his heirs shall take place only upon their assumption of his outstanding obligations. In case of failure by the heirs to assume such obligations, the land shall revert to the Government for disposition in accordance with this Act.[56]


Community Mortgage Program

The Community Mortgage Program (CMP) is defined as "a mortgage financing program of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation which assists legally organized associations of underprivileged and homeless citizens to purchase and develop a tract of land under the concept of community ownership. The primary objective of the program is to assist residents of blighted or depressed areas to own the lots they occupy, or where they choose to relocate to, and eventually improve their neighborhood and homes to the extent of their affordability."[57]

Beneficiaries of the Program shall be responsible for their organization into associations to manage their subdivisions or places of residence, to secure housing loans under existing Community Mortgage Program and such other projects beneficial to them. Subject to such rules and regulations to be promulgated by the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation, associations organized pursuant to this Act may collectively acquire and own lands covered by this Program. Where the beneficiaries fail to form an association by and among themselves, the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation shall initiate the organization of the same in coordination with the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor and the local government units concerned. No person who is not a bona fide resident of the area shall be a member or officer of such association.[58]


Definitions


References

  1. Yahoo Philippines, One dead in Silverio compound demolition, accessed on 25 April 2012
  2. InterAksyon.com, 1 killed as Silverio Compound residents clash with police during demolition, accessed on 25 April 2012
  3. ABS-CBN News, 1 patay, 36 nasugatan sa demolisyon sa Silverio Compound, accessed on 25 April 2012
  4. Inquirer.net, Demolition in Parañaque turns ugly; 1 dead, 39 hurt, accessed on 25 April 2012
  5. GMANetwork.com, Security tight at Silverio compound in Parañaque in time for clearing, accessed on 25 April 2012
  6. De Castro Homesite, Inc. vs. Leachon, Jr., G.R. No. 124856, 10 March 2005
  7. Lagcao et al. vs. Labra, G.R. No. 155746, 13 October 2004
  8. De Castro Homesite, Inc. vs. Leachon, Jr., G.R. No. 124856, 10 March 2005
  9. De Castro Homesite, Inc. vs. Leachon, Jr., G.R. No. 124856, 10 March 2005
  10. Tuates vs. Bersamin, G.R. No. 138962, 4 October 2002
  11. Tuates vs. Bersamin, G.R. No. 138962, 4 October 2002, citing the Records of the Senate, Third Regular Session, October 1 to November 26, 1997; Vol. II, Nos. 18-38, p. 20
  12. Tuates vs. Bersamin, G.R. No. 138962, 4 October 2002, citing the Records of the Senate, Third Regular Session July 28 to September 30, 1997; Vol. 1, Nos. 1-18, p. 1005
  13. Tuates vs. Bersamin, G.R. No. 138962, 4 October 2002, citing the Records of the Senate, Third Regular Session July 28 to September 30, 1997; Vol. 1, Nos. 1-18, p. 469; 470
  14. Tuates vs. Bersamin, G.R. No. 138962, 4 October 2002, citing Republic Act No. 7279, Section 27
  15. Tuates vs. Bersamin, G.R. No. 138962, 4 October 2002, citing the Revised Penal Code, Article 281
  16. Tuates vs. Bersamin, G.R. No. 138962, 4 October 2002, citing the Revised Penal Code, Article 312
  17. Tuates vs. Bersamin, G.R. No. 138962, 4 October 2002, citing the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 70
  18. Tuates vs. Bersamin, G.R. No. 138962, 4 October 2002
  19. Section 27, Republic Act No. 7279
  20. Section 3, Republic Act No. 7279
  21. Section 45, Republic Act No. 7279
  22. Section 3 (t), RA 7279
  23. Section 28, Republic Act No. 7279
  24. Section 28, Republic Act No. 7279
  25. Section 27 of Republic Act No. 7279
  26. Section 3, Republic Act No. 7279
  27. Section 27 of Republic Act No. 7279
  28. Section 4 of RA 7279
  29. Section 7, Republic Act No. 7279
  30. Section 7, Republic Act No. 7279
  31. Section 8, Republic Act No. 7279
  32. Lagcao et al. vs. Labra, G.R. No. 155746, 13 October 2004
  33. Lagcao et al. vs. Labra, G.R. No. 155746, 13 October 2004, citing City of Cincinnati vs. Vester, 281 US 439, 74 L. ed 950, 50 S Ct. 360
  34. Lagcao et al. vs. Labra, G.R. No. 155746, 13 October 2004
  35. Lagcao et al. vs. Labra, G.R. No. 155746, 13 October 2004
  36. Article 3, Section 1, 1987 Constitution
  37. Article 3, Section 9, 1987 Constitution
  38. Section 19 of RA 7160
  39. Lagcao et al. vs. Labra, G.R. No. 155746, 13 October 2004
  40. Estate or Heirs of the Late Ex-Justice Jose B.L. Reyes et al. vs. City of Manila, G.R. Nos. 132431 and 137146, 13 February 2004, cited in Lagcao et al. vs. Labra, G.R. No. 155746, 13 October 2004
  41. Estate or Heirs of the Late Ex-Justice Jose B.L. Reyes et al. vs. City of Manila, G.R. Nos. 132431 and 137146, 13 February 2004, cited in Lagcao et al. vs. Labra, G.R. No. 155746, 13 October 2004
  42. Section 9 of RA 7279
  43. Section 9 of RA 7279
  44. Estate or Heirs of the Late Ex-Justice Jose B.L. Reyes et al. vs. City of Manila, G.R. Nos. 132431 and 137146, 13 February 2004, cited in Lagcao et al. vs. Labra, G.R. No. 155746, 13 October 2004
  45. Section 10 of RA 7279; Estate or Heirs of the Late Ex-Justice Jose B.L. Reyes et al. vs. City of Manila, G.R. Nos. 132431 and 137146, 13 February 2004, cited in Lagcao et al. vs. Labra, G.R. No. 155746, 13 October 2004
  46. Section 10, RA 7279
  47. Section 11, RA 7279
  48. Section 3(e), RA 7279
  49. Section 15, Republic Act No. 7279
  50. Section 3(r), Republic Act No. 7279
  51. Section 16, Republic Act No. 7279
  52. Section 12, Republic Act No. 7279, as amended by Republic Act No. 9397 (18 March 2007)
  53. Section 12, Republic Act No. 7279, as amended by Republic Act No. 9397 (18 March 2007)
  54. Section 12, Republic Act No. 7279, as amended by Republic Act No. 9397 (18 March 2007)
  55. Section 13, RA 7279
  56. Section 14, RA 7279
  57. Section 31, RA 7279
  58. Section 33, RA 7279
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