At dialogue, urban poor demand free distribution of idle houses and a stop to harassment of authorities
Around 5280 houses have been occupied by urban poor Filipinos in resettlement areas led by KADAMAY. The occupation started on March 8, Women’s day and while the occupation in one area was harassed and locked in by police and security personnel, another area (Pandi Residence 3) was occupied by at least 1,500 people last night at 8:30 PM. KADAMAY lauds the tireless and brave efforts of those who occupied and took matters into their own hands to assert their housing rights.
KADAMAY slammed the National Housing Authority for its blatant anti-poor and neo-liberal message of deeming those who occupied as mere illegal trespasser, likening them to common criminals. The NHA maintained their stance against the occupation in a dialogue with KADAMAY leaders earlier today.
Many have come out in support of #OccupyBulacan by saying the action is just since the houses have been empty for years despite the fact there are thousands without a home living in close proximity.
“We decided to take matters in our own hands. The NHA talks a lot about following processes yet in the past year we held massively attended dialogues five times with even HUDCC representatives present, all to no avail. Even Malacanang turned a blind eye in the two times we sought an audience. It is time we took back our housing rights. 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,” said Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano, KADAMAY Chairperson.
“The government should cater to the rights of the people. The processes, political and economic roadblocks the government has put in place are undemocratic. Our occupation will make us of idle housing, we did the government’s job for them,” added Arellano.
The NHA has also called out KADAMAY and those who occupied by saying that supposed beneficiaries of socialized housing were disenfranchised by the action. This was also made apparent in the dialogue with the NHA and local officials earlier today. KADAMAY says that all the houses occupied have been idle for 5 or more years. It is clear with some being in near dilapidated conditions.
“We did not rob anyone of their opportunities for housing. 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. 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,” said Arellano.
“The government should cater to the rights of the people. The processes, political and economic roadblocks the government has put in place are undemocratic. This is further enshrined in the Urban Development and Housing Act which is religiously followed by Bureaucrats for 25 years this month,” added Arellano.
The group is insistent on their occupation and demands 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. LGU officials and authorities must cease and desist from erecting food blockades and harassing the members. Police and military must pull out of occupied areas,” said Arellano. ###