Senator Telena Cruz Nelson
Senator Telena Cruz Nelson first introduced her Bill No. 26-34 (COR) in February. The measure was meant to extend the timelines and means of notification for Land for the Landless purchasers. According to the bill’s legislative findings, a 2011 report listed 443 defaulted accounts. In 2016, this number was reduced to 356, with 39 families in homes built on defaulted lots.
During the public hearing for the legislation, Land Administrator Margarita V Borja confirmed that the current number of defaulted lots is 240. As the number of default accounts decreased with time, Senator Nelson introduced legislation to extend the timeline for payments made on Land for the Landless lots. After two town hall meetings, the chairperson for the Committee on Environment, Land, Agriculture, and Procurement Reform, Senator Thomas C. Ada, held a public hearing on the bill. On June 30, 2017, Bill No. 26-34 (COR) passed unanimously with 15 votes.
In response to that passage, Senator Nelson stated:
"I am humbled to have introduced this legislation, and I am hopeful that our families will maintain their homes under the Land for the Landless program. As the chairperson for the Committee on Housing, I have seen firsthand what homelessness can do to our families, our elders, and our children. These lots belong to our people – it is upon them that our people have built their livelihoods and raised their families. With this timeline, the hundreds of people who were originally granted land under the Land for the Landless program will have the time to find the resources to secure their homes and create their legacies."
Senator Nelson said she will work with the Department of Land Management to continually lower the number of defaulted accounts and secure other resources the department may require.