DOST agency divided on housing project
By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net MAKATI CITY, Philippines -- Issues concerning the housing project of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) agency Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) remained unsettled and continued to divide ITDI employees after two meetings held Thursday. The housing project involves six parcels of land in barangay Molino in Bacoor, Cavite. The land, which has a total area of 244,456 square meters, was used as an agricultural research site by the ITDI, formerly known as the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST). When ITDI was reorganized in 1987, its agricultural research functions were transferred to University of the Philippines Los Baños. In 1992, a resolution was passed to use the land as housing project for ITDI employees, which was made legal by the issuance of Executive Order 137 signed by President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo in October 2002. “The main issues are summed up in two words: affordability and transparency,” said Natividad Villostas, senior science research specialist of material science division at ITDI. After years of discussion with the Molino Task Force, Villostas said the body handling the project failed to ensure that ITDI employees could avail of the housing project. She said the project lot allocation is questionable and the pricing for house and lots were beyond the capacity of over 80 percent of the ITDI employees. Meanwhile, senior science research specialist and co-chair of Molino Task Force Elvira Viros insisted that the task force has done its job to set and keep the project in motion. During a general meeting Thursday, Viros presented the history of the project and stressed they have been transparent. She said the task force has been reporting the progress of the project by holding general assemblies and posting documents in bulletin boards across the DOST campus in Taguig. Villostas, however, denied that the Molino Task Force has been transparent, citing several observations. She said the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the project were written without consultation with the ITDI employees and was only presented to them generally and was even amended allegedly without the employees’ knowledge. Viros, for her part, stressed that in 2004, the task force released and circulated to division heads the amendments, which were discussed in an executive committee meeting and published on the monthly paper “ITDI Miscellaneous.” During Thursday’s meeting, Mylene Rivera, director of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), pointed out that the HUDCC could not intervene “since the problem is internal and must be fixed by the ITDI management.” In a core group meeting held after Thursday’s general meeting, Rivera suggested to let phase 1 of development continue since there are target dates of completion for the project. She also urged the body to start working on site 2 of the housing project so it can be developed simultaneously with site 1 next year. Rivera assigned the Molino Task Force to conduct another survey of ITDI employees and find out how much they are willing to pay for the housing program if they are interested to purchase a property. She added the task force can revisit the land size allocation and the offer a “cost-competitive” choice of the ITDI employees. Based on the IRR of the housing project, phase one includes development of 131,193 square meters of the total area. Moldex was tapped as developer of the project phase one, which Villostas pointed out has pending cases. ITDI director Nuna Almanzor was not present during both meetings.
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