At least 1,000 informal settlers led by the urban poor group, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay)-Negros left a government housing site in Barangay Felisa, Bacolod City on Friday afternoon after camping out overnight Thursday to demand for houses.
The informal settlers led by Berlita Ante and Ereneo Luminos vacated the military/police housing project called Ciudad Felisa on orders of National Housing Authority (NHA) architect Susana Nonato, head of the housing project’s implementation team.
The NHA representatives, led by Nonato, with assistance from personnel of the Bacolod City police, led by Senior Supt. Francisco Ebreo, negotiated with the leaders of the informal settlers at the Business Inn hotel on Friday morning. During the dialogue, they gave Kadamay-Negros until 3 p.m. to vacate the housing site. By about 4 p.m., the group left.
Nonato said what the members of Kadamay-Negros did constituted anarchy.
“Anarchy na ‘yan (It is anarchy). Our stand here is, for those informal settler families, if they really want, the local government unit can endorse them so we can package one housing project for them. They don’t necessarily need to join a group,” she added.
In occupying Ciudad Felisa, Kadamay-Negros cited Joint Resolution No. 2 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on 9 May that allows the NHA to award the unoccupied housing units of uniformed personnel to qualified beneficiaries.
Nonato said they will not allow to happen in Bacolod the incident in March last year when members of Kadamay occupied an NHA housing site in Pandi, Bulacan.
She pointed out that the informal settlers cannot occupy the housing units in Barangay Felisa because these have already been awarded to beneficiaries who are personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Bureau of Corrections.
They signed an individual loan agreement with the NHA and in fact, many had already paid the housing package in full, Nonato said.
The construction of Ciudad Felisa was completed in 2015, but the site does not have power and water supply.
The discussion on the assistance that could be given to the informal settlers will continue on 7 September in another dialogue scheduled by the NHA with leaders of Kadamay-Negros and representatives of beneficiary-agencies.
Although they agreed to leave peacefully, Kadamay-Negros leaders said the NHA has failed to address their concerns.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia, who attended the meeting, said the city government has a relocation site for informal settlers, but he would welcome a housing project from the NHA.
Bacolod City Lone District Rep. Greg Gasataya, who also joined the dialogue, requested the NHA to submit a status report on the Ciudad Felisa housing project.