A MILITANT lawmaker on Saturday accused the previous administration of incompetence for failure to award 5,208 idle relocation housing units in five separate sites in different barangays in Pandi town in Bulacan to members of the armed services.
“The Aquino administration built these houses only for press releases and photo opportunities,” Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said.
Casilao said members of the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) had the right to occupy the idle relocation housing units even as the settlers said they would not leave the vacant housing sites in Pandi town and San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan.
At a news forum Saturday, Kadamay secretary-general Carlito Badion said they would fight for their right to occupy the houses.
“We will prevail, we will prevail,” Badion said in Filipino, “we are defending our right to occupy these housing units.”
Badion made the statement as National Housing Authority representatives met with the occupants last Friday to settle the issue but the housing representatives failed to shoo away the settlers.
The NHA scheduled another set of negotiations with the occupants.
The housing units were set aside for members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police but were occupied by some 5,000 homeless people from Bulacan.
But since the houses had not been occupied and the National Housing Authority claimed these were for armed services members, Badion insisted they just did what was the right thing to do.
“We are just asking for what is rightfully for the poor, the relocation units that have not been occupied which must be distributed to those in need,” Badion said in Filipino.
Badion also called on other homeless families to occupy the empty units.
“We should occupy these open relocation units and ensure the taxpayers’ money would be put to good use,” he said.
Casilao said “the urban poor’s daring mass action in Bulacan was a breakthrough, for advancing their rights to affordable and mass and service-oriented housing, and it exposes the anti-poor framework of the government housing program, particularly the Public-Private Partnership on developing the sites.”
Casilao said relocation or housing projects of the government were mostly dominated by the private sectors, particularly the construction, management and operations, hence, resulting in high fees being charged from supposedly poor beneficiaries.
“Relocation sites are usually sub-contracting utilities such as water and electricity, charging more from the already poor, and eventually due to non-payment, services are being cut-off,” Casilao said.