As property owners started received property tags / stickers on their properties indicating that they were affected by the railway alignment of the Mindanao Railway Project -- and then later receiving Notices of Taking -- from the DOTr, a number had taken to social media to seek clarification. Government offices, however, did not have ready answers. Some had reached out to the Mindanao Railway Watchers site in search of clarity. One group in particular -- Pag-IBIG fund borrowers -- expressed a common sub-set of concerns.
In response, the MindaRW community has been reaching out to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Housing Settlement and Urban Development (DHSUD) on behalf of these property owners since September 2020.
This article will be updated as additional information becomes available.
The original inquiry sent to both departments centered on the following concerns:
- Compensation details for properties that will be taken
- The fate of properties that will only be partially affected by the railway
- Status of mortgage payments in light of the impending acquisition of properties by the DOTr
- Assistance in acquisition of replacement properties
- Clarity regarding age requirements for availing of a Pag-IBIG loan. Property owners who were qualified when they availed of their home loans, might no longer be after they lose their homes.
As of writing, the community has been in communication with both the Mindanao Railway Project Office (MRPO) for the DOTr and the Housing Loan Office - VisMin of the Pag-IBIG Fund for the DHSUD. Much remains to be clarified, and there is clearly a need for greater coordination between the agencies mentioned above. It appears, however, that the relevant discussions have started.
This post is a collection of responses that the Website administrator has received either directly from the DOTr or DHSUD, or official correspondence shared by community members. Click document to enlarge.
First response: September 23, 2020
The first office to respond was the Mindanao Railway Project Office. Many of the questions above were beyond the responsibility of the DOTr - MRPO, so the office refrained from comment referred these matters to the Pag-IBIG. However, the office did provide useful insight regarding references for further legal study.
It also confirmed that the property owner and "encumbrance holder" would be given separate compensation checks. Therefore the property need not be concerned about payments to the Pag-IBIG fund, local government units, etc.
This first correspondence also gave hope to property owners that situations like the following would not -- necessarily -- leave them with un-usuable fractional properties. The DOTr confirmed that some common-sense judgement would be exercised.
October 9, 2020
This response to a follow up questions to the letter of the 23rd of September centered around the appraisal process and yielded significant information.
First was the use of a third-party appraiser for market value evaluation. Instead of a rushed "table appraisal" solely based on tax declaration information, the DOTr is actually inspecting the affected homes to ascertain their condition and thus their actual value. This report lines-up with community-member reports of in-person appraisals.
As per their report, only appraisers from government financial institutions with the appropriate experience in property appraisal, or professional appraisers accredited by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas would be retained. Despite the urgency of this flagship project, the DOTr is not taking shortcuts. Something for which they should be given kudos.
The second significant data point in this correspondence is the staggered nature of payments. Payments will not be made in a lump sum but would, instead, be staggered according to the following schedule. The staggered payment appears to incentivize property owners to complete relocation in an expeditious manner.
|Improvements (buildings, crops, trees, etc.)
October 17, 2020
This was the first response from Pag-IBIG and comes after the insights shared by the MRPO. This letter represented progress in the sense that the correct line-of-communication had been identified. However, it did show that there were no measures in place to take the predicament of Pag-IBIG fund borrowers into account.
As shown here, the primary concern of the initial conversation was non-disruption of amortization payments rather than and exploration of the unique circumstance that Pag-IBIG home owners found themselves in.
October 26, 2020
A follow up email was sent to the Pag-IBIG fund after the email on the 17th of October. This highlighted the need for affected fund borrowers to organize themselves to petition the board of directors of the Pag-IBIG fund for adjustments to prevailing regulations based on their circumstances.
As of writing discussions continue, as are efforts to foster further inter-departmental cooperation. The DHSUD has done right by property owners in the past. Hopefully similar action can be done for the nearly 14,000 homeowners affected by the Mindanao Railway.
March 22, 2021
A community sent Pag-IBIG communication requesting for an update on their queries with regard to their property and received the following reply. What is notable in this response is that the Pag-IBIG fund has confirmed that they had already submitted Transfer Certificate of Titles (TCT) to the DOTr -- which appears to be the extent to which the Pag-IBIG fund is able, or willing, help the process along.