By Angie M. Rosales and Jason Faustino
President Rodrigo Duterte has put his foot down on urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap’s (Kadamay) seizing of vacant government housing units as he ordered yesterday the Philippine National Police (PNP) to put an end to the group’s escapades.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte issued the directive after Kadamay members attempted to expropriate a housing project for policemen and soldiers in Rizal province.
Senators backed Mr. Duterte’s move, saying he is upholding the rule of law in barring Kadamay from occupying idle housing units.
Sen. JV Ejercito and Minority Leader Franklin Drilon made similar calls on enforcing the rule of law on Kadamay members.
The problem on idle housing units may have been the result of lack of attention from the previous regime as a National Housing Autority (NHA) official said some 55,000 housing units were built by the Aquino administration for low-salaried government workers and poor families.
National Housing Association
(NHA) general manager Marcelino Escalada said the previous administration built around 72,000 housing units in total, but only 18,000 of these were occupied.
He said the other houses remained vacant, since the units were “poorly-constructed, cramped and far-flung.”
The NHA, he said, is addressing reports that some housing projects also lack power and water lines.
Rights of others violated
“Amid the problems we have on the lack of shelter, it is not a solution to violate the rights of others. This is too much. It is anarchy. We should not let this pass since it would not help in solving the problem of lack of housing,” Ejercito said.
Roque said Duterte also directed the National Housing Authority (NHA) to explain why it has so many idle housing units.
In March last year, thousands of members of the group occupied an idle NHA housing site intended for troops in Pandi, Bulacan.
Mr. Duterte eventually allowed the Kadamay members to stay in the housing project they occupied.
“In the past, the President allowed Kadamay to occupy housing projects intended for soldiers in Pandi, Bulacan but if you will recall, the President said that would be the first and the last,” Roque said.
“Given this latest attempt, the President has given a directive to the police that Kadamay should not be allowed to take over these housing units,” he added.
NHA asked on idle units
“He also asked the NHA when they intend to distribute these (idle) housing units to the intended beneficiaries,” he said.
Roque said a case will be filed against the illegal dwellers if Kadamay again tries to occupy the NHA housing units.
“Then, they will have to deal with the full extent of the law. The role of the President is to implement the law, he will implement the law,” he said.