Monday, May 14, 2012

Army soldiers receive new housing units

DEFENSE SECRETARY Voltaire Gazmin salutes the colors together with Army Chief Lt Gen. Emmanuel Bautista upon his arrival at the Army headquarters at 1:30pm today, May 14, 2012. Gazmin was the Guest of Honor and Speaker during the turn over of housing units to military personnel who once occupied the JUSMAG area. (Photo by Pfc Cesar Lopez)

FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City- The Philippine Army has formally turned over 32 newly-constructed housing units to deserving military personnel inside the Army headquarters here, at 1:30 pm today (Monday), a military official said.

Defense Secretary Voltaire T Gazmin attended the ceremony as the guest of honor and speaker, signifying his strong support to the Army’s projects which are focused on the morale and welfare program for its personnel. Senior military officials led by Army Chief Lt Gen Emmanuel Bautista also graced the occasion that was attended by other military personnel, beneficiaries and their family members.

Major Harold M Cabunoc, the Army Spokesperson, said that the construction of the housing units is under the JUSMAG Replication project of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority .

It is the BCDA's initiative to secure the relocation of JUSMAG housing area occupants whose residential area is taken over by BCDA for possible lease or development.

“The former JUSMAG occupants are prioritized in this replication project, and there are also new applicants who were granted the privilege to avail of these housing facilities inside the camp,” said Cabunoc.

In his short message, BCDA President and CEO Arnel Paciano Cassanova said that the completion of the replication project was his own personal commitment.

"This is our way to recognize the invaluable services rendered by our soldiers for the country. We would like to honor them with a decent housing facility that they can call home," he said.

The 32 completed units are part of the 160 condo-type units of the 10-unit buildings which are constructed a few hundred meters away from the posh residences of Mc Kinley Hill.

Cabunoc said that the remainining 128 units are still undergoing final touches and will be completed by November 2012.

Each housing unit has 3 main bedrooms and a maid's quarters which is comparable to the condo units in nearby areas that can be rented at around P15,000.00-P18,000.00/month.

Army personnel occupying on-base units pay a maintenance fee amounting to Php 400.00 for enlisted personnel and P500.00 for officers. This 'rental fee' could vary depending on the quarter allowances per computed based on the soldier's rank.

Aside from the condo-type housing units, the Army will also turn-over 50 apartment type housing units later this year. With a floor area measuring around 180 sqm., each unit has 4 bedrooms and an attic.

These units are projected as transferring area for the occupants of the Junior Officers Quarters (JOQ) along Arellano Road. Vacated units will be awarded to 50 deserving enlisted personnel of the command.

The new Army housing program

The new Army housing program started sometime in 2005 as part of the Armys' thrust to grant decent housing facilities for its soldiers. To achieve this goal, the Army partnered with Non-Government Organizations and Local Government Units to strengthen its housing initiatives.

Since the inception of the Army Housing Program, a total of 2,144 Army-wide on-base housing units were already granted to personnel, 879 of which are inside Fort Bonifacio in Metro Manila.

On-base housing facilities are constructed right inside the Army bases across the country, but these could not be owned by the soldiers. Those who opt to avail of off-base housing can own the property by availing of housing loans from reputable lending institutions partnered by the Army like the PAG-IBIG fund.

Meanwhile, donors of the off-base units normally shoulder half of the amount due, with the remaining half of the total amount paid by the beneficiaries on a monthly basis.

A partnership with the Gawad-Kalinga Community Development Foundation, Inc. gave birth to the Kalinga sa Kawal Housing Project.

Under this project, lots were initially given to Army personnel. Following the signature mode of Gawad-Kalinga, the soldiers in the spirit of ‘Bayanihan’ will work together in building their houses.

Out of 872 completed housing units, 687 are already turned-over while the remaining 185 are yet to be awarded.

P-Noy housing project

Augmenting the Army housing program is the P-Noy housing project which started in 2011.

A total of 10, 699 housing units were allocated for the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, out of which 3, 783 are dedicated for the Army wherein 3, 319 were already entitled for officers and enlisted personnel waiting for formal turn-over.

The remaining units are still open for application. These housing units are located outside military bases such as General Trias in Cavite, Calamba in Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal.

Meanwhile, Cabunoc said that through the continuous support from the government and external donors, the Army will continue to provide shelter to its personnel, enhancing the security and protection of the soldiers' family members.

“Owning houses does not only provide physical security but more importantly an inspiration for the beneficiaries to continue living their dream of giving a good future to their families while serving the country,” said Cabunoc.

Army chief Lt General Emmanuel Bautista said that he will always support the implementation of projects that will benefit the soldiers.

“Granting modest and comfortable housing facilities for our soldiers is our humble way to uplift the living conditions of our soldiers who have faithfully performed their duties, especially those who are helping the people in far-flung communities. It is also part of our attaining our vision of becoming a world-class Army by 2028,” said Bautista.

Army Chief Lt Gen Emmanuel Batutista receives the symbolic key of the JUSMAG Replication project from Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, as BCDA President Arnel Paciano Cassanova looks on. (Photo by Pfc Cesar Lopez)

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