By Emil G. Gamos
PANDI, Bulacan—Some 600 militants rallied on Saturday at the National Housing Authority-constructed NHA Village Heights 2 in Barangay Mapulang Lupa here to support the urban poor who have occupied the houses there since March 8 and the leftist group that led them there.
Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Akbayan, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anak Pawis, and Kabataan party-list swooped down on the village and took turns in assailing the government’s housing programs.
They also vowed to support members of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), who have occupied at least 6,000 “idle” housing units in different resettlement areas in this town.
The NHA had explained the units Kadamay’s members had occupied were already awarded to the Philippine National Police housing board. The other units in the village have also been awarded to informal settlers whose houses have been demolished and to families who were removed from geological hazard zones, the agency added.
The NHA said it was merely following instructions of President Rodrigo Duterte to provide adequate living conditions for the people at the village by providing them with water and electricity.
Rep. Sarah Elago of Kabataan said their group of militant party-list organizations belonging to the so-called Makabayan Block in Congress had already filed a resolution to investigate the government’s supposedly idle housing projects.
“The poor has the right to proper shelter, and public funds intended for the poor should go to the poor,” Elago said, but noted their resolution would have to wait because Congress just went on break.
Elago said it was high time to probe the incidents involving urban poor so they would not spill over to other provinces where NHA housing units were located.
The NHA should speed up the processing of papers for the poor since many of them had no means to follow up the requirements, she added.
President Duterte himself did not want people lining up to follow up something in every government office, Elago noted.
Rep. Antonio Tinio of ACT party-list said the police and military should not be allowed in the Pandi community, diverting his speech to the current offensive of the government against communist insurgents.
When asked what would the leftist groups do if the NHA served the notice of eviction to the occupant indigents this Monday, Carlito Badioc, secretary general of Kadamay, said they would not leave the houses and would “continue to fight for the right of the poor to have their own dwelling place.”
Kadamay was willing to provide the NHA with a masterlist of persons who took over the houses, but the agency’s officials “did not let it happen that way.”
“What they want is for us to leave first the occupied housing units before they process it. And also, we want them to acknowledge our wishes—to pull out the police in the area, remove the food blockade, and provide electricity, water and other needs of the housing sites,” Badioc said.