Senator Pimentel backs Meloto to take Binay post as housing czar


By Leila B. Salaverria
Inquirer News Service

Home is where his heart is.

No one could better replace Vice President Jejomar Binay as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council than Gawad Kalinga founder Antonio Meloto, who leads a group that builds free houses and creates communities for the poor.

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III made this statement on July 3 as he urged President Benigno Aquino III to name Meloto as the new housing czar, calling the philanthropist the “best candidate and logical choice” to head the agency.

Meloto is a 2006 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for community leadership.

But the Gawad Kalinga founder turned down the offer to head the agency under the Aquino administration in 2010, saying he would be more effective as a private citizen.

According to Pimentel, Meloto’s track record and hands-on experience in giving dignity and providing decent living conditions to the poor would help the government achieve its goal of reducing homelessness.

What best qualifies Meloto for the position is his management of Gawad Kalinga, an award-winning nongovernment organization that puts up housing communities for impoverished Filipinos, Pimentel said.

The senator noted that Gawad Kalinga is a collaborative program, which encourages volunteerism and forges a contract with homeowners not to sell their houses.

The program, sustained by donors and supported by Couples for Christ, a Catholic advocacy group, has led to the establishment of many Gawad Kalinga communities throughout the country.

It aims to lift millions of Filipinos out of their impoverished lives.

A typical Gawad Kalinga village has 50 to 100 brightly-painted homes, a school, a livelihood center and a multipurpose hall.

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