Kadamay declares “initial victory” for #OccupyBulacan.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — Occupants of the idle government housing units in Bulacan will not be evicted starting on Tuesday, March 28, in spite of the eviction notices which the National Housing Authority (NHA) served last week. Instead, the NHA will begin the process to determine if the occupants are eligible to be awarded the housing units they have occupied.
In a dialogue on Monday, March 27, the NHA and leaders of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) have also agreed to work on probable solutions to address the problems on housing, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said. Leaders of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc including Casilao, were also at the dialogue.
“This initial victory has come from the bravery and strength of urban poor Filipinos who have been holding their ground for nearly a month,” said Gloria Arellano, Kadamay national chairperson.
Arellano said it was the only dialogue that concretely discussed how to address the occupation of idle government housing units. But the group still stands on their call for free mass housing for the poor, instead of the socialized housing model under the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA).
The NHA and Kadamay agreed on the following:
1) Joint profiling of all occupants will be conducted to determine their eligibility to the housing program. Trinidad said profiling will start on April 3.
2) The 171 occupants who have signed the housing information form will be processed starting March 28.
3) NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada gave his commitment to withdraw police and soldiers from the occupied sites to prevent harassment.
Casilao clarified that it was also agreed upon that there will be no applicants and uniformed men who stand to lose a housing unit once the occupants’ papers were processed. The Armed Forces of the Philippines Housing Board was given until May 30 to come up with a list of personnel who are paying and still desire to occupy the said units. Occupants whose houses proved to have been already awarded will be given an entry pass to another unit or housing project, and will then be processed as beneficiary.
NHA spokesperson Elsie Trinidad said some officers prefer a bigger space than the ones that were built in Bulacan.
“Collective action amidst the worsening crisis of poverty and housing is more than ever justified. The poor are powerful and our demands will not be denied. Eviction is one thing, we will continue to push for free and mass housing for all urban poor Filipinos as a matter of right,” Arellano said.