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Settlers get food aid as eviction looms

/ 01:10 AM March 23, 2017
Residents of La Solidaridad Estates in Barangay San Isidro in Rodriguez, Rizal, block one of the gates of the community with a truck to deter settlers from occupying vacant houses in the village. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

Residents of La Solidaridad Estates in Barangay San Isidro in Rodriguez, Rizal, block one of the gates of the community with a truck to deter settlers from occupying vacant houses in the village. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO— Heeding a request by the National Housing Authority (NHA), social workers have been bringing food to thousands of families belonging to the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) who have occupied six low-cost housing projects in Pandi town and San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan province since last week.

Since March 18, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been distributing food packs good for three days to at least 5,000 families in Pandi who are classified as homeless and requiring humanitarian assistance, according to Gemma Gabuya, DSWD Central Luzon director.

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The aid will continue until the NHA main office directs them to stop, she said.

Each food bag consists of six kilograms of rice, four cans of sardines, four cans of corned beef and a pack of powdered coffee.

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“We gave aid at the request of the NHA. We validated information [provided by the NHA] on March 17, going house to house to determine the situation of the families. They won’t leave the units they occupied and [since] they had nothing to eat, we decided to help,” Gabuya said.

“What we have [in Bulacan] is a man-made disaster,” she added.

Food bags were first given to 2,000 families occupying the Padre Pio resettlement site. “We didn’t make any distinction [as to whether the families] were members of Kadamay or not. We are helping regardless of their organization,” Gabuya said.

It was up to the NHA to act regarding the legality of the takeover of the housing projects, she said.

Since Monday, NHA teams have been posting eviction notices on 5,262 houses taken by Kadamay members in five NHA-administered housing sites and a private housing project that has not yet been turned over to the government.

These notices gave the families seven days to voluntarily leave the housing sites.

Bulacan policemen have been undergoing drills in preparation for a mass eviction should it become necessary, said Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat Jr., Bulacan police director.

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At least 200 policemen from the Provincial Police Public Safety Company have been assigned as part of civil disturbance management if the NHA would be forced to evict the families.

This week, policemen and private security guards foiled attempts by Kadamay members to occupy a housing project in Bustos town in Bulacan as well as two housing projects in Rodriguez town in Rizal province.

Many of these houses were intended for soldiers, policemen, firemen and jail personnel. —TONETTE OREJAS AND CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE

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TAGS: Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), low-cost housing projects, National Housing Authority (NHA), Pandi town, San Jose del Monte City, settlers
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