The Rodrigo Duterte government must step up in terms of providing mass housing, urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) said.
“For too long the public has been led to believe that social services, like housing, were only meant to be publicly funded but not publicly allocated. There is a housing crisis in the country, not only because the government’s 5.5 million backlog still stands but because the current setup of socialized housing is inherently anti-poor,” Kadamay secretary-general Carlito Badion said.
Among the issues Kadamay protested at a rally in front of Mendiola last March 13 was the National Housing Authority’s (NHA) insistence on the “socialized” housing scheme spelled out in Republic Act 7279, the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992.
Kadamay, however, rejects the scheme as its forces the poor to pay up on what should be a basic social service.
“The government and NHA insist that the urban poor, one of the most disenfranchised in our country, should pay for a basic right,” Badion said.
It is as if the houses being built and sold come with water, electricity and basic utilities, Badion added.
To force the Duterte government to finally act, Kadamay started occupying government housing units in Bulacan Province since March 8.
Kadamay said the houses comprise a small percentage of 53,000 units that have remained vacant for as long as five years.
The NHA has called their actions “illegal” while Duterte called Kadamay’s move as “anarchic.”
Kadamay condemned the statements, saying their actions would not have been necessary had the government acted on Duterte’s promise to distribute vacant housing units during last year’s Housing Summit.
“This is not the first time we have voiced our demands. We marched and presented our call for housing rights before the president. Our petitions have fallen on deaf ears,” he added.
Kadamay chairperson Gloria Arellano said they are not taking houses away from alleged rightful owners.
“That cannot be the case when there is nobody living in the houses,” she said.
Kadamay said their sector continue to suffer as when the Benigno Aquino government demolished their communities and forcibly evicted thousands of families from their houses.
“Duterte’s government is showing that Presidents past and present take the same stance against the interests of the poor,” Badion said.
They called for the scrapping of the UDHA, which they saw as an obstacle to their basic right to housing.
“By retaining the UDHA and the NHA’s corrupt practices, problems for the urban poor will keep repeating themselves. The UDHA must be scrapped to make way for free and mass housing for the poor,” Kadamay said. # (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)