MANILA, Philippines — Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao urged the National Housing Authority (NHA), Wednesday, to expedite the awarding of idle housing units in Rodriguez, Rizal, as mandated by Joint Resolution No. 2, which President Rodrigo Duterte approved last May.
The legislative measure was triggered by the occupation of urban poor families of unoccupied and deteriorating housing units located in Pandi town, Bulacan, in May last year.
Early this morning, around 700 urban poor activists under the Montalban Homeless Alliance (MHA), affiliated with the Kadamay urban poor group, occupied housing units in Barangay San Isidro. These housing units are supposedly for police and military but have been reportedly idle for five years.
In light of the incident, Casilao cautioned critics, especially those who are anti-Kadamay or urban poor or “matapobre,” not to over-react, as the awarding of unoccupied housing units to poor families has already been approved by the President, prior to the order of both chambers of Congress.
“So if you oppose this, address it to the president, the house speaker and the senate president,” Casilao said in a press statement.
He added that the very wisdom of the resolution lies in the fact that the unused units, which were funded by billions of pesos of public funds, are supposed to be utilized by poor sectors, given that homelessness in the country is widespread.
The progressive lawmaker pointed out that the only stumbling block on this issue is the “slow execution of the NHA, and its refusal to a democratic consultation demanded by Kadamay.”
“Anakpawis urges NHA General Manager Escalada to fast-track the implementation of the Joint Resolution No. 2 so that formally, these idle houses which includes those in Montalban, Rizal should be properly awarded to the homeless poor,” Casilao added.
The congressman also questioned the “sluggish and apparent deliberate inaction of the NHA,” citing the agency’s old practices of “colluding with contractors or making money out of relocation projects.”
Casilao also lambasted the agency for placing the housing projects in areas obviously unbearable to its supposed beneficiaries, resulting to idle units and its consequential deterioration, thereby wasting public funds.
He said the rampant subcontracting of housing projects also resulted in substandard units and infrastructure that even the safety of House members were compromised during their ocular inspection.
“We reiterate our assertion that the occupy mass actions of Kadamay group is not detrimental to public interest, but actually putting sense to the perverse spending of public funds,” Casilao said.
“If tens of thousands of housing units constructed across the country remain unused and left to rot, it is comparable to throwing away billions of pesos of hard-worked taxpayers’ money, and this fact seemed perplexing to Kadamay’s critics, instead, we should support Kadamay and encourage the homeless urban poor to immediately occupy these units, so as to lessen the plague of homelessness in the country,” Casilao ended. (davaotoday.com)