March 24, 2017
On the 25th anniversary of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, Bayan calls on the Duterte government to swiftly address the housing crisis plaguing the poor. We support the urban poor throughout the country in their just struggle to assert their right to housing through militant action, including the occupation of idled housing units.
The “occupy” actions led by Kadamay in Pandi, Bulacan highlight the failures of the government housing program under the UDHA. Thousands of government housing units have been built yet have not been occupied, even as the reported housing backlog increased over the years. Billions have been spent for housing projects and yet the beneficiaries appear to be only the private contractors and possibly some government officials.
The Duterte government should probe the circumstances that led to the thousands of unoccupied housing units throughout the country. The past administration of the NHA and HUDCC, headed by Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s classmate Chito Cruz, undertook housing projects using the anomalous Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP. The lump sum was part of a presidential pork barrel or discretionary fund that was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. What were the parameters for the construction of housing units? Were these constructed even without a clear plan for occupancy, just because government was in a rush to spend the DAP funds? What was the quality of the housing units that made them unfit for occupancy? Cruz himself in a congressional inquiry in March 2016 admitted the “hellish” conditions of the P18.9 billion AFP-PNP housing units and that soldiers and policemen were not consulted regarding the housing projects.
The abandoned AFP-PNP housing units are among the idled housing being occupied by urban poor group Kadamay in Bulacan.
Amid the stark government failure in public housing, urban poor are justified in taking direct action.
In response to the just protests of the poor, the National Housing Authority has issued an eviction order against the Kadamay occupants. President Duterte has at one point described the occupation as anarchy. The NHA order is an utterly callous move that disregards the valid basis for the protests.
The NHA must withdraw the eviction notice and work towards a just and peaceful resolution of the issue. There is no other acceptable way. Various government agencies can hammer out an agreement that recognizes the Kadamay occupants’ right to housing, utilizes the idled houses, and fast-tracks the construction of new housing units for the benefit of many more urban poor.
Government must abandon commercialized housing and work towards free housing for working people. One way to achieve this is via the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP where the matter of socio-economic reforms, including housing, is currently being discussed. The peace talks provide a venue for major reforms beneficial to the urban poor. Land reform, national industrialization, rural development and job creation are major topics in the peace talks.
On March 24, to mark the 25th anniversary of UDHA, Bayan calls on its allied organizations and supporters of the urban poor to gather at the NHA office in Quezon City and in NHA regional offices to denounce the eviction order against Kadamay and to press for the just demands of the urban poor. We call for solidarity protests and direct action throughout the country in support of the urban poor.###