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For several decades, the House of Representatives was home to some of the most powerful "informal settlers" in the Philippines.
The National Housing Authority (NHA) on May 13, 2015 officially transferred ownership of the 19-hectare Batasan Pambansa Complex in Quezon City to the leadership of the 290 – strong chamber, ending almost 40 years of "squatting" on untitled land.
"It feels very good," said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. He said the Batasan, part of an envisioned National Government Center that was supposed to house executive, legislative and judicial complexes, had been vulnerable to leadership changes since it was built in 1978 during the Marcos regime.
"As long as we don't hold the title, even if we're the powerful House of Representatives, we're still subject to presidential action," Belmonte said. (The NHA is under the administrative supervision of the Office of the President).
The Batasan complex is located in Batasan Road, Batasan Hills, Quezon City, an area densely populated with informal settlers who have occupied the land for several years.
Belmonte said the conveyance of the 19-hectare property to the House of Representatives erased all insecurity about its official headquarters.
"A title is a very important document. There's a big difference between having a title and not having a title,"he said.
NHA General Manager Chito M. Cruz said the House did not actually need to pay anything for the land.