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NGO involvement in housing projects no conflict of interest – Benitez spox

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Atty. Lyzander “Bong” Dilag, spokesman of Mayor-Elect Alfredo “Albee” Benitez, yesterday disputed claims that there was a conflict of interest in tapping the help of Joly Homes Foundation, a non-government organization, in the proposed housing program of the incoming Bacolod City administration.

The on-site, in-city and near-city housing projects are being eyed by the Benitez administration, for informal settlers in Bacolod City, in partnership with the Joly Homes Foundation.

Dilag said that the foundation chaired by Mayor-elect Benitez is only extending help in the conduct of a study and profiling of project beneficiaries, including their capacity to pay, and the sustainability of the programs.

The Benitez administration is eyeing to put up a condominium-type residences for informal settlers. But the number of actual beneficiaries is still being determined as of this time, due to lack of data from the outgoing administration.

Dilag said that there is no conflict of interest since there is no monetary involvement between the foundation and the city government.

The housing project for squatters in Bacolod City is among the priority programs of the Benitez administration, not because of social imperative, Dilag said, stressing that it was already family tradition for them to provide affordable homes for the homeless.

He recalled that Jose Conrado “Jolly” Benitez, father of Mayor-Elect Benitez, served as former Human Settlements deputy minister under the administration of the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

While serving as the congressman of the 3rd district of Negros Occidental, Albee Benitez also served as chairman of House Committee on Housing and Urban Development.

His brother, incumbent Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, also authored the Urban Housing and Development Act that aims to establish a local government resettlement program that implements an on-site, in- city or near city strategy for informal settlers, which is now pending approval in Congress.*

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