The Birth Of The Home Development Mutual Fund

The birth of the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), more popularly known as the Pag-IBIG Fund, was an answer to the need for a national savings program and an affordable shelter financing for the Filipino worker. The Fund was established on 11 June 1978 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1530 primarily to address these two basic yet equally important needs. Under the said law, there were two agencies that administered the Fund. The Social Security System handled the funds of private employees, while the Government Service Insurance System handled the savings of government workers.

Less than a year after on 1 March 1979, Executive Order No. 527 was signed. The order directed transferring the administration of the Fund to the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation, which was one of the operating agencies of the then Ministry of Human Settlements.

Seeing the need to further strengthen the stability and viability of the two funds, Executive Order No. 538 was issued on 4 June 1979, merging the funds for private and government personnel into what is now known as the Pag-IBIG Fund. However, It was only on 14 December 1980 when Pag-IBIG was made independent from the NHMFC with the signing of PD 1752, which amended PD 1530. With the improved law in effect, the Fund's rule-making power was vested in its own Board of Trustees. Likewise, PD 1752 made Pag-IBIG membership mandatory for all SSS and GSIS member-employees.

A New Administration, Some Changes In Pag-IBIG

Months after former President Corazon C. Aquino assumed leadership of the country, Pag-IBIG contributions were suspended from May to July 1986. This gave way to the Presidential Task Force on Shelter to conduct a thorough review of the Fund and its operations. The task force later affirmed that Pag-IBIG Fund was run professionally and that there were no anomalies in the Fund. On 1 August 1986, former President Aquino directed the resumption of Pag-IBIG membership under Executive Order No. 35. Membership was still on a mandatory basis but under more liberal terms. For one, contribution rate was reduced from three percent to one percent for employees earning over P1,500. Employer share was likewise cut from three percent to a fixed rate of two percent. The Maximum Fund Salary was raised from P3,000 to P5,000.

1 January 1987 marked the return of the Pag-IBIG Fund to a voluntary program under Executive Order No. 90. While many companies chose to discontinue their Pag-IBIG membership, quite a number, including big companies like PLDT and Dole Philippines, nevertheless opted to retain their membership to the Fund despite the voluntary nature of registration.merging the funds for private and government personnel into what is now known as the Pag-IBIG Fund. However, It was only on 14 December 1980 when Pag-IBIG was made independent from the NHMFC with the signing of PD 1752, which amended PD 1530. With the improved law in effect, the Fund's rule-making power was vested in its own Board of Trustees. Likewise, PD 1752 made Pag-IBIG membership mandatory for all SSS and GSIS member-employees.

Facing Challenges Head On

Confronted with the sudden reduction in its membership base, Pag-IBIG stood unfazed and took the challenges head on. As a first step, the Fund implemented an intensified marketing campaign that focused on membership retention and generation.

It was during the years as a voluntary fund that Pag-IBIG evolved from an institution primarily for savings and housing into an agency with a wider reach that covers almost all other needs.

Pag-IBIG introduced innovative benefit programs that heeded the calls for expansion of membership to include self-employed groups with informal income, overseas Filipino workers, and non-earning spouses. It also launched other novel programs such as the Multi-Purpose Loan for its short-term loans program, and shelter programs that address both individual and institutional housing requirements.

Clearly, the voluntary nature of Pag-IBIG membership did not stop the Fund from growing in depth and breadth. During the period, the Pag-IBIG Fund has claimed its rightful place in the country's economic and financial system, finally gaining the acceptance of its members, not by force, but by its continuing efforts to impress upon the members that the Fund exists solely for their benefit as well as their beneficiaries.

After eight years as a voluntary fund, the nature of Pag-IBIG membership reverted to mandatory on 17 June 1994 when President Fidel V. Ramos signed Republic Act 7742. The new law became effective on 1 January 1995.

Today, more than a decade after the universal Pag-IBIG coverage law was implemented, the Pag-IBIG Fund continues to be a strong partner in realizing Filipino workers' dreams. Over the years, it initiated more programs and projects, particularly those that address the needs of members belonging to the bottom economic level. The Fund has established special housing partnerships with teachers and uniformed men, among others. The Rent-to-Own Program was introduced, providing members another affordable way of homeownership.

The Fund's efforts towards housing the Filipino did not go unnoticed. During the World Habitat Day celebration in October 2006, Pag-IBIG was given the prestigious Scroll of Honour Awards by the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) for "making the dream of affordable housing a reality for hundreds of thousands of households." Pag-IBIG is the first Philippine government agency to be awarded such recognition.

The Fund likewise strengthened its partnership with accredited developers by way of its various institutional lending programs, among which is the much-sought after program for the development of medium and high-rise condominium buildings. The program provides a ready inventory of condominium units for sale at affordable prices, and allows members to experience condominium style living in areas close to their places of work.

In recent years, the Fund has embarked on its successful bid in the financial market, moving a step closer to its vision of becoming a premier and globally competitive provident financial institution. In 2001, the Fund floated P2 billion-worth of Pag-IBIG Housing Bonds to generate additional funds for its shelter financing programs, which was warmly received by both institutional and individual investors. The bonds matured in late 2006.

HDMF Law Of 2009

Recognizing HDMF's contributions through the years and the need to further strengthen its capability as the biggest source of housing finance in the country to date, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law Republic Act No. 9679 or the Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009. The law was signed on 21 July 2009.

Under the new HDMF law, membership to the Pag-IBIG Fund is made mandatory for all SSS- and GSIS-covered employees; uniformed members of the AFP, BFP, BJMP and PNP; as well as Filipinos employed by foreign-based employers. Now more than ever, Filipino workers will enjoy the benefits that are available only to Pag-IBIG members.

Likewise, the law grants the HDMF exemption from tax payments like other government provident institutions. With its tax-exempt status reinstated, Pag-IBIG will have more funds to finance housing and short-term loans as well as investments in government securities. Income from these endeavors is distributed exclusively to Pag-IBIG members in the form of dividends.

The HDMF Law of 2009 also gives the Board of Trustees the authority to set the contribution rates, thereby paving the way for members to save more for their future. Similarly, this will bolster the Fund's resources for home financing.

Pag-IBIG is an acronym which stands for Pagtutulungan sa Kinabukasan: Ikaw, Bangko, Industria at Gobyerno. To this day, the Pag-IBIG Fund continues to harness these four sectors of the society to work together towards providing Fund members with adequate housing through an effective savings scheme.