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by • March 5, 2010 • Anything goesComments (0)38

Villar’s Housing Plan (for enrichment and not for the poor)

This is forwarded email sent (allegedly) by Antonio Hidalgo, the Secretary-General of the Housing & Urban Development Coordinating Council from 1992 to 1998. Here is his first personal anecdote on how the real Manny Villar conducts his business; a far cry from what his image-engineers are trying to portray. We must be dessiminating this factual events to the people who will vote this coming May.

Tong,

Whatever the merits of your abstract argument about the presumption of innocence, let me assure you and the brods that Manny Villar is far from innocent. He is as crooked and greedy as they come.

Winnie Monsod has made a very good case about his crookedness in the Paranaque road projects that passed through his properties at his behest as a lawmaker, enabling him to sell some of his land to the government at much more than market prices and to reap many millions in property appreciation from the government roads.

He is also guilty of making billions out of government funds for socialized housing through a questionable, unsustainable scheme that nearly destroyed our financial system in the 90′s.

It’s a bit complicated, but I was right there, trying to stop what was essentially Villar’s scheme as Secretary General of HUDCC (housing). Fortunately, we succeeded (Dept. of Finance, Pag-Ibig Fund, SSS, GSIS, HUDCC, HIGC-I was head of the multi-agency Task Force that did this) and avoided a financial disaster in the Philippines that would have preceded the similar one that recently hit the US and hurt the world economy.

It started when Cory became president. Villar, through the CREBA he controlled, drafted a socialized housing law to spur low-cost housing in the country. Cory approved it with her emergency powers, not seeing through Villar’s scheme.

To oversimplify, the law required the SSS, GSIS, and Pag-Ibig Fund to put billions of pesos of their funds each year into a fund for mortgages for low-cost housing (defined initially as 150T max, later going up to 250T through the years). This fund would be managed by the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. (NHMFC – an agency of HUDCC). The NHMFC then established quotas for allocating the annual common funds of SSS, Pag-Ibig, and GSIS based on the building capacities of registered developers. The largest quotas every year were for the Camelia and Palmera (C & P) company of Villar which got a very large chunk of the funds for their home mortgages.

Within the annual quotas under the law, builders could submit completed mortgages and NHMFC would promptly buy them at their face amounts and pay the builder. It was the builders actively sold mortgages in the malls and everywhere else, approved the papers, and submitted them to NHMFC. NHMFC only checked to see that the amounts of mortgages submitted by the builders were within their annual quotas before paying, it did not check the credit-worthiness of the borrower or even if the papers were genuine in that the stated borrower was a real person and the house being mortgaged actually existed.

The situation the law created was unique in the entire world. The pooled funds of SSS, Pag-Ibig, and GSIS were effectively put into the hands of developers, who built the houses, found buyers willing to take out mortgages, approved the mortgages, submitted them to the NHMFC, and got the money in a few months. In effect, the builder controlled the credit funds and approved the loans using funds that were not theirs but were funds of SSS, Pag-Ibig, and GSIS.

This was a clear conflict of interest, for the builder would maximize his profits from easy credit and would not bear the cost of mortgage defaults. Naturally, lots of problems arose in just a few years — fake mortgages to ficititious borrowers, nonexistent houses sold to noexistent buyers, and the more common case: real, but substandard, houses, hastily sold to buyers who clearly did not have the capacity to pay back the loan during the agreed loan period. By the time HUDCC took action to correct the anomalous situation in 1996 under my coordination, some 42 billion had been disbursed in mortgages under the Villar scheme. Only a little more than 20 percent of the loans were being repaid by borrowers, more than 70 percent of the mortgages had been defaulted or were in serious arrears.

This drew the attention of the World Bank and the Dept. of Finance, for the SSS, GSIS, and Pag-Ibig Funds are retirement funds. The funds are commtted to future returement obligations to the contributing members. If the housing mess continued, the SSS, GSIS, and Pag-Ibig would default on its retirement obligations, creating a financial crisis for the country.

All of us who changed the housing program to give the control over their housing funds back to the SSS, GSIS, and Pag-Ibig, who would be more careful in screening mortgages to make sure they would be paid for they would bear the penalties of mortgage defaults — we were all harrassed by Villar and his minions in the CREBA who slapped law suits on us and attacked us in the radio, TV, newspapers, etc.

The Makati regional trial court found in our favor and threw out the CREBA-Villar law suit. For a long while, we lost in the media wars and were painted as anti-poor bureaucrats. But the furor eventually died down and the reformed housing program we fashioned has stood the test of time. Since 1997, the repayment rates of socialized and low-cost housing mortgages have high enough to make the program sustainable. The looming financial crisis was averted and we are now in better shape than the US, which did nothing to reform its own defective housing mortgage system.

Of course, the share prices of C & P homes of Villar collapsed, for everyone knew that the company was profitable only for as long as it could bilk government funds. But then Villar found other rackets and the rest, as they say, is history.

Tony Hidalgo

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