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Group sends 8,000 to barricades vs eviction

/ 01:50 AM March 20, 2017
Kadamay members from the Bulacan towns of Balagtas and Bocaue set up a barricade in Pandi Heights III, a government housing project in Pandi town where the group occupied vacant units. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Kadamay members from the Bulacan towns of Balagtas and Bocaue set up a barricade in Pandi Heights III, a government housing project in Pandi town where the group occupied vacant units. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

PANDI, BULACAN—Barricades, manned by at least 8,000 people, are being put up to foil government attempts to evict members and sympathizers of an urban poor group who had occupied vacant units in government housing projects in the province.

The group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) said it would stop National Housing Authority (NHA) officials from serving eviction notices to settlers who took over vacant houses in several government projects.

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Gloria Arellano, Kadamay chair, said she asked her followers to defy orders to vacate the houses and shun attempts by the NHA to list down their names.

“Once you give your names, they will give you eviction notices,” said Arellano addressing some 600 supporters from other militant groups like Bayan, Gabriela, Bayan Muna and Akbayan.

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“Just give them my name. I don’t care if I am the one they take to court,” she said.

The NHA did not answer phone calls or text queries on its next move against families who occupied low-cost housing units in the town of Pandi. Some of the units have no water and electricity.

Invasion day

On March 8, thousands of people occupied more than 5,000 houses at the Padre Pio settlement, a housing project for jail and penology employees and firemen in Barangay Cacarong Matanda in Pandi.

They also seized units at the Villa Louise site in Barangay Siling Matanda, Pandi Heights 2 and 3 housing projects in Barangay Mapulang Lupa and Villa Elise housing project in Barangay Masuso, all in Pandi.

Police said at least 4,500 units had been occupied by the group.

Kadamay said the government’s housing agencies had been ignoring the families’ applications for free housing.

At least 400 people tried to occupy another housing project meant for soldiers and policemen in Barangay Batia in Bocaue town on Friday. But residents, barangay peace volunteers and policemen stopped them at the gate, said Supt. Jowen dela Cruz, Bocaue police chief.

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Legal battle

“The residents spoke to them and told them that the idle units had beneficiaries,” Dela Cruz said. The group left and proceeded to the Pandi Heights 2 housing project.

Lawyer Ephraim Cortez, of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said his group would petition the court for a restraining order should the NHA serve eviction notices today.

A solidarity caravan in support of Kadamay included Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago and Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio, who said the occupation of government houses belied the claim of President Duterte that “change has come to the Philippines.”

“Where is change? The poor and the oppressed continue to sink in misery,” Tinio said.

Elago said the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives had filed a resolution seeking an update on the government’s housing projects, including the reasons the houses had not been distributed to beneficiaries. —CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE

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TAGS: Housing, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), National Housing Authority (NHA)
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