On the 25th anniversary of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (UDHA), the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) stands in solidarity and calls for more support to Kadamay’s occupation of idle housing projects which started on March 8. “UDHA miserably failed in providing shelter to the underprivileged and homeless which the law said it wanted to meet, when it was crafted back in 1992,” says Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director.
Thousands of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) members who have been previously evicted from different parts of Metro Manila and Bulacan occupied abandoned and vacant government housing projects in six (6) areas in Pandi, Bulacan.
CTUHR also pointed out that the occupation of the so-called idle housing projects should serve as a wake-up call to the government, that both the law it passed and housing programs it carried-out failed to address the homelessness and housing crisis in the country. Moreso, CTUHR added, that is it an indicator of government’s failure to address poverty amidst the rising Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Arago said, “The idle houses in Bulacan are not idle because there is no demand or need for homes. They are scandalously idle because this so-called socialized housing projects built from taxpayers’ money became a market-driven and profit-oriented houses which are beyond the beneficiaries’ reach. Eviction had taken their source of income and resettlement did not come with access to employment or livelihood and basic services.”
“When thousands of homeless got sick and tried to survive under the heat and cold, while housing units built under their names sit idly and rot, it is only right and just that they take hold of their right to dwellings and to live a bit decently”, Arago averred. They should be supported and recognized not just as sources of votes during elections but community of people asserting rights and dignity.
CTUHR also criticized the 25-year old housing law, saying it has done nothing to benefit the poor and homeless and has been used by the government and big businesses to rake profits from the high cost of amortization they require the “beneficiaries” to pay. “The militant assertion of the urban poor in Pandi, Bulacan is a clear manifestation of UDHA’s failure to address the housing crisis,” Arago added.
The Center pointed out that the housing problem is an off-shoot of nagging unemployment, precariousness of employment condition, the absence of genuine development , and militarization particularly in rural areas which forces people to migrate and crowd in cities to seek for jobs and income sources. Even the so-called employed will squeeze in urban poor communities as their wages and contractual nature of their jobs only afford them cramped spaces in those communities. The unemployed often find themselves settling in danger zones or worst; they are forced to live in the streets despite threats to their health and safety.
CTUHR condemns the reactions of NHA and move of President Duterte in serving eviction notices against KADAMAY members who occupied housing units, as this will not solve the problem. The high handed measure by which this government addresses any problem today, only exacerbates injustices committed against the poor. CTUHR reminds the Duterte administration that it is his promise to improve the lives of the poor that catapulted him to power. The poor Filipinos whom he professed to `love’ during his campaign are simply collecting what he promised to deliver, Arago concluded. ###