Kadamay wants water, power connection with free houses
CITY OF MALOLOS—They want the complete package.
Members of a militant urban poor group, who had settled into vacant government-built houses in Pandi town, Bulacan province, are now demanding water and electricity.
At least 100 members of the group Kalipunan ng Damayang Maralita (Kadamay) held a rally in front of the Pandi town hall on Wednesday to demand water and power supply connections to the houses that they occupied.
The occupants, said one of their leaders Marian Cornelia, were not demanding free water and electricity, though. Cornelia said the occupants were willing to pay for the utilities.
Kadamay leaders earlier demanded that they be exempted from paying for the units that they occupied in Pandi Residence 3, a government housing project in the village of Mapulang Lupa.
Right to free housing
The occupants said they had a right to free housing if social justice was to be met.
Pandi Residence 3 was one of six government housing projects occupied by at least 20,000 Kadamay members and their families last month.
The families took over unfinished units, some without toilets, in government housing project sites in Villa Elise in Masuso village; Pandi Heights 1 in Cacarong Matanda village; Pandi Village 2 and Pandi Residences 3 in Mapulang Lupa; Villa Louise in Siling Bata village, and Padre Pio in the village of Cacarong Bata, all in Pandi.
Not mayor’s call
At a meeting with Kadamay members a day after the rally, Pandi Mayor Celestino Marquez said he told the group it was barking up the wrong tree.
“I told them the houses they took were not administered by the town but are owned by NHA so that’s the agency they should approach to acquire water and power,” said Marquez, referring to the National Housing Authority.
“They knew the houses they broke into were not complete, and had no power and water, but they proceeded to take them anyway,” the mayor said.
“That meant they were clearly aware they were taking houses under these conditions,” he added.
Cornelia, the rally leader, said the families were forced to buy water from retailers for P2 per gallon, the supply coming from other housing sites in the area.
“When we occupied these houses, we wanted them to be given to us for free,” said Cornelia.
“Of course, we would also want free water and electricity but the Manila Electric Co. would never agree to that and we acknowledge that,” she said.
“So we intend to pay but we need to have access first. Houses around us have water and electricity so why couldn’t they connect us to these services, too?” she added.
Some of the occupied houses were meant for soldiers, policemen, firemen and jail personnel who had been given until June 30 to lay claim to the units or lose their rights over the houses, said Marquez at a Senate hearing on the Kadamay occupation campaign on April 18.
President Duterte had agreed to allow the Kadamay members to stay in the houses that they occupied and urged soldiers to give these up in exchange for bigger and better units.
Mr. Duterte, whose bloody war on drugs had been linked to at least 7,000 deaths, said he wanted to avoid a confrontation with the settlers that could turn violent.
Kadamay chair Gloria Arellano, who was also at the Senate hearing, said policemen listed as beneficiaries did not want to move into the houses because these were too small.—CARMELA REYES ESTROPE
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