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NO MORE EVICTION OF BULACAN OCCUPIERS

Kadamay hails Duterte but urges action on homelessness problem

/ 06:45 PM April 04, 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

FILE – 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

Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) welcomed on Tuesday the pronouncement of President Duterte to allow their members to remain in government housing units they occupied in Bulacan province since March.

Mr. Duterte made the announcement during the 120th founding anniversary of the Philippine Army on Tuesday.

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Kadamay chair Gloria Arellano said Mr. Duterte’s openness was a “big triumph” for the urban poor. But she also expressed hope that the President would look at the overall problem of homelessness in the country.

“So many houses that are built by the government remain unoccupied,” she told the Inquirer via phone interview. “We hope that they just distribute it to the homeless poor.”

Arellano also hoped that the pronouncement would also cover the other abandoned housing units that they occupied in Bulacan, not only those intended for policemen and military personnel.

In a surprising development, Mr. Duterte told soldiers and policemen in a ceremony in Fort Bonifacio to “just let it go and… leave (the houses) to them.”

“Their only sin is that they are poor like us,” he said.

Mr. Duterte went on to promise that by December, he would build better houses with better utilities for the uniformed men. But he also cautioned Kadamay members to leave the police and military officials already occupying their homes, and not to create any trouble.

In light of the sudden pronouncement, Kadamay also hoped that the President’s words would immediately be made into action.

“The houses should be directly awarded to those who occupied,” said Michael Beltran, Kadamay spokesperson.

Beltran stressed that the question remained whether the urban poor beneficiaries would be made to pay for the housing units, as with other relocation programs.

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The National Housing Authority is currently doing a profiling of the occupants of six housing projects in Bulacan, he said. The agency is reportedly cross-checking their inventory whether the units occupied already have beneficiaries.

“The question is: Will they still continue the profiling?” Beltran asked. “If the President had made the announcement, then they should proceed with the awarding and do away with the processes that do not really include the residents themselves.”

At least 5,000 families affiliated with Kadamay have been occupying the housing projects since March 8. These units were supposedly built for the personnel of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as for informal settlers in Metro Manila.

They had since been served an eviction notice, but had refused to budge, asserting that the houses they took over remained vacant anyway, with the uniformed men refusing to relocate to the projects.

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TAGS: Bulacan housing projects, Kadamay, Philippine news updates, President Duterte
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