March 14, 2017
The occupation by thousands of urban poor of unused housing units in Pandi, Bulacan is glaring proof that government’s housing program is a failure. President Duterte must start from a recognition of this reality, rather than invoke failed bureaucratic processes in the guise of upholding “the rule of law”. Rather than justify the current flawed system, government must re-examine the system that has allowed thousands of housing units to be unoccupied, while thousands of poor families are without housing.
The occupation seeks government recognition of the rights of the poor and the awarding of housing units to the families that joined the protests. The occupation was done in an organized and deliberate manner, far from the picture of anarchy that the President wants to depict.
Similar “occupy” actions have been done by poor people in Latin America, United States and Europe as a legitimate form of resistance against oppression and a means of advancing the interests of the marginalized.
Unoccupied housing units can be immediately awarded to the Kadamay protesters. Meanwhile relocatees from other areas, who were earlier assigned units, can await the construction of new housing. Demolitions should not push through.
Government should not pit the poor against each other. Duterte should show compassion instead of threatening the poor with eviction. Any violent eviction of protesters would be politically costly for a regime that has already been accused of targeting the poor in its drug war. ###
*Photo credits to DZBB