Settlers given 7 days to leave gov’t houses
PANDI, BULACAN—Teams from the National Housing Authority (NHA) on Monday posted eviction notices on doors of houses that families, most of whom were members of the group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), occupied in six government low-cost housing projects in Bulacan province.
The notices advised the occupants to leave the houses within seven days or face eviction. Most of these houses were allocated for soldiers and policemen and families displaced from danger zones in Metro Manila.
Teams that sent the notices cited Presidential Decree No. 1472 issued by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1978, which gave the NHA the power to “summarily eject, without the necessity of judicial order, any and all squatters’ colonies or government resettlement projects, as well as any illegal occupant in any home lot, apartment or dwelling unit owned or administered by it.”
The teams went first to Villa Elise in Barangay Masuso, one of six housing projects that Kadamay members had taken over last week to dramatize their demand for free mass housing.
Accompanied by the police, the teams put up the notices on 324 houses around 4 p.m. before they went to the Padre Pio housing project in Barangay Cacarong Bata; the housing project for jail and penology employees and firemen in Barangay Cacarong Matanda; the Villa Louise housing site in Barangay Siling Matanda; and the Pandi Heights 2 and 3 housing projects in Barangay Mapulang Lupa.
The families who occupied the idle houses in Barangay Mapulang Lupa had put up barricades, fearful they they would be ejected. But no barricades met the NHA team at Barangay Masuso. People there cooperated, according to Chief Insp. Manuel de Vera, town police chief.
Last week, 160 families who occupied 160 houses in Villa Elise held dialogs with an NHA team that processed their housing applications. The occupied houses have no electricity or water supply.
At the House of Representatives, a group of militant legislators issued a statement expressing support for Kadamay’s occupation of idle housing units in government settlement projects that started on March 8.
In a statement signed by seven militant party-list lawmakers—Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis), Emmi A. De Jesus (Gabriela), Antonio Tinio (ACT), Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna), France Castro (ACT), Arlene Brosas (Gabriela) and Sarah Elago (Kabataan)—Makabayan bloc said it “disputes the characterization of the ongoing occupation as anarchic.”
“On the contrary, what we are witnessing is an organized action of homeless victims of violent demolitions and failed resettlement programs,” the group said.
“The organized occupation of idle and vacant public housing units is a response to the continuing failure of [the] government to provide decent mass housing for the poor and homeless,” Makabayan said.
“There is no one to blame but [the] government itself for the housing crisis,” it added.
The group said the occupants were poor individuals and families who had been “uprooted from urban poor communities” in Metro Manila “often through violent demolitions.”
“The government excluded these homeless in housing programs,” the group said.
“Makabayan recognizes the justness of their cause and supports the call” for President Duterte to “break off from past administrations’ policies on housing and social services.” —CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE