President Duterte came up with a win-win solution on urban-poor group Kadamay’s action to occupy idle housing units in Pandi, Bulacan: Let Kadamay take Pandi while the administration builds new housing units for the affected members of the state armed forces.
At the 120th founding anniversary of the Philippine Army on Tuesday, Duterte asked soldiers and policemen to just give up Pandi to the militants who occupied it on March. “Ibigay na lang natin sa kanila ’yan tutal mahirap sila.”
However, the President vowed to coordinate with the National Housing Authority (NHA) to look for a better location where the government can build on a new mass-housing project intended for those affected by the illegal Bulacan occupation. “I promise you, I will look for another land nearby, adjacent or contiguous to that area, and we will construct better housing units with water and electricity already.”
He saw no need to cry over spilled milk and told the troops Pandi lacks the utilities that make up a livable house. “Maraming dynamics diyan; walang tubig, walang [kuryente] at kulang at hindi maganda ang pagkakagawa.”
The Commander in Chief vowed to finish the new mass-housing project by December, so that families of soldiers and policemen can already move in there before the year ends.
To Kadamay, Duterte has one warning: Do not trouble the members of the state forces already settling in Pandi, as they will be moved out in due time, too. “They will be transferred to new housing units better than the ones you [Kadamay] seized from them.”
Somewhat defending Kadamay, though, the President said the
urban-poor group was not to be faulted, as its militant assertion was a by-product of poverty. The only sin Kadamay did, in Duterte’s opinion, was that its members were poor, like most of the Filipino people. “Let us not wage a fight against our own people. Tutal mahirap lang ‘yan, intindihin na lang ninyo.”
In reaction, the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap hailed the President for recognizing the legitimacy of the occupation in Bulacan.
“This is a welcome development. The National Housing Authority and other shelter agencies should take this as a cue to overhaul the unjust housing policies that have plagued the poor for decades. Idle homes should be awarded to the homeless as soon as possible and the NHA should work toward catering to the basic rights of the poorest in the country,” said Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano, Kadamay chairman.
“Patunay ito na makapangyarihan ang mahihirap at dapat tuluy-tuloy tayong manawagan para sa karapatan ng maralitang Pilipino sa disenteng pamumuhay. Makatwiran ang panawagan sa libre at pangmasang pabahay sa lahat ng maralita at walang bahay. Malinaw na palpak ang sistema ng negosyong pabahay at dapat itong agad na baguhin,”
The NHA has started profiling the occupied areas in Bulacan to determine whether the occupants are qualified to own the property they merely grabbed, among other concerns.
“The term ‘beneficiary’ has been misleading over the years, as the current setup actually disenfranchises poor ‘beneficiaries’. Demolitions lead to people being homeless or transferred to relocation areas far from job/livelihood opportunities, scarce utilities and unjust amortizations costs. This is a cycle of exploitation has pushed the poor into deeper misery over the years. All poor Filipinos should be beneficiaries of free and mass housing as a right and not commercialized or corporate housing,” Arellano explained.
Kadamay called on the Congress and Senate to scrap the Urban
Development and Housing Act (Udha) in their upcoming sessions. The legislation is blamed by the group as one of the many reasons behind the housing crisis. Arellano said neoliberal policies serving capitalist interests, like the Udha, must be scrapped to make way for genuinely pro-poor policies.
The Kadamay also slammed the Philippine National Police and the Quezon City government for the mass arrests and unjust charges brought against 41 of its members for the reoccupation in Tandang Sora. According to Arellano, housing rights and social justice must be afforded to all.
“Demolitions, the laws, officials and benefactors behind them only perpetuate the housing problems of ordinary Filipinos,” Arellano said.
“The issue is not just about stopping demolitions but pursuing on-site development, something the government has neglected for so long. Meaning that poor communities must be maintained while basic rights, like social services and job creation, are provided,” she said.