Bulacan informal settlers urge NHA to approve housing applications
MANILA, Philippines – Informal settlers living in Bulacan trooped to the local office of the National Housing Authority (NHA) in the province to call for the approval of their housing applications, which have been pending for two years.
Led by labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM), the rally in front of the NHA office in Balagtas, Bulacan on Monday, April 17, was attended by around 500 residents in danger zones and sites due for demolition.
PM Bulacan spokesperson Ver Estorosas claimed that these "legitimate applicants" went through the process set by the NHA for them to be granted homes.
As early as April 7, 2015, Estorosas said, a letter from Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado was sent to NHA-Central Luzon, endorsing 100 families for the housing program. Another 325 applicants were also endorsed by Alvarado after.
They also had a dialogue in the governor's office on July 15, 2015, where NHA representatives agreed to give housing units to those living in danger zones in Bulacan and to immediately process the applications of the first 100 families endorsed.
"Hinihiling ngayon ng grupo na aprubahan na ang naturang mga aplikasyon dahil bukod sa dumaan ito sa tamang proseso, available at nabubulok na nga halos ang mga nakatiwangwang na pabahay sa Bulacan, katulad ng binabanggit ng grupong Kadamay na nagsagawa ng kampanyang okupasyon noong nakaraang buwan," said PM in a statement.
(The group is now asking for the approval of these housing applications because, aside from the fact that these went through the right process, the units in Bulacan are available but going to waste, just like what Kadamay said when it occupied housing units last month.)
NHA Resettlement and Development chief Elsie Trinidad said they have yet to check the applications being claimed by the group.
In total, there are 36 housing projects located in 12 municipalities and cities in Bulacan. Kadamay (Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap) estimated that there are 15,000 vacant housing units in these projects, where the houses for the police and the military are located.
Vice President Leni Robredo, former housing chief, earlier said that 80% of the houses intended for security personnel were left idle since most of the beneficiaries were on field assignments.
Informal settlers in Metro Manila who were awarded houses in Bulacan also either left their homes vacant, sold them, or are renting them out because there aren't as many jobs in the province compared to in the city. (READ: Why P600-a-month housing is still a burden to the poor)
Last month, Kadamay occupied thousands of housing units in Bulacan supposedly after unending dialogues with the NHA that these would be distributed. The NHA then said the houses would be granted to them if they undergo the application process.
Kadamay resisted, prompting the government to issue threats of eviction. Weeks later, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the distribution of cops' and soldiers' housing units to Kadamay members. – Patty Pasion / Rappler.com