‘Gov’t failure prompted occupation of Bulacan housing projects’
Urban poor Filipinos have taken over around 5,280 houses in resettlement zones in Bulacan, militant group for urban poor Kalipunan ng DamayangMahihirap (Kadamay) said on Friday.
The group led the movement that started last Wednesday, in time for International Women’s Day.
Kadamay Chair Gloria Arellano said that the group, together with thousands of urban poor decided to take matters into their own hands, slamming the National Housing Authority (NHA) for its “blatant anti-poor and neo-liberal message of deeming those who occupied as mere illegal trespasser, likening them to common criminals,” in the dialogue of the two parties on Friday.
“The NHA talks a lot about following processes yet in the past year we held massively attended dialogues five times with even HUDCC (Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council) representatives present, all to no avail. Even Malacañang turned a blind eye in the two times we sought an audience. It is time we took back our housing rights,” Arellano said in a statement.
“The collective power of the people must be recognized. Every day that housing is treated like the government’s money making scheme through neo-liberal policy making, more urban poor Filipinos sink into deeper poverty,” she added.
The group chair said that the government should cater to the rights of the people, calling the processes, political and economic roadblocks the government has put in place “undemocratic.”
“Our occupation will make us of idle housing, we did the government’s job for them,” she added.
Meanwhile, National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Chairperson Liza Masa went to one of the relocation sites in Pandi to see the situation and to hear the resentment of the militants and the people who occupied the idle houses.
In an interview with Radyo Inquirer, Masa said housing is one of the basic needs of a Filipino family and the government should respond to this problem.
“Actually, ito ‘yung hiling… na ‘yung bahay, maging isang serbisyo, hindi pinagkakakitaan,” she said.
She said that the commission will forward the matter to the President in the Cabinet meeting on Monday and will also urge the government to create and review a scheme, making the housing a “service” and not something to make a profit from.
“’Yung talagang mahihirap gawing libre, yung iba, singilin na lang ng maliit din… Dapat din i-review ang housing policies, and immediately implement a response on this problem,” Masa added.
Kadamay further explained that the group did not rob anyone of their opportunities for housing and noted that all the houses occupied have been idle for 5 or more years, with some being in near rundown conditions.
“In fact, we invite all poor Filipinos to join the occupation against an oppressive system. Everybody already living in relocation sites are also enjoined in our fight as we call for free and public mass housing,” Arellano said.
“The unrealistic and unjust costs of amortization payments continuous push people out of relocation sites and must end. The massive number of idle housing is a testament to the failures of government in the housing sector,” she added.
The group was insistent on their occupation and demanded the immediate recognition and awarding of idle housing to those who occupied.
“All idle housing occupied and unoccupied must be freely distributed to the people, KADAMAY is willing to work within this process, free and mass housing for those who occupied and the homeless. Besides this, food, water and basic utilities must also be provided,” she said.
“LGU (Local government unit) officials and authorities must cease and desist from erecting food blockades and harassing the members. Police and military must pull out of occupied areas,” Arellano added. RAM/rga
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