MANILA, Philippines – Some members of urban poor group Kadamay have become jobless after months of waiting for the formal turnover of their new homes in a government housing site in Bulacan.
Thousands of Kadamay members who joined the Occupy Bulacan movement in Pandi in March remained homeless even after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the homes to be awarded to them.
The still homeless Kadamay members could not be considered residents yet so the barangay cannot issue certificates of residency to them, often a requirement for job applications. This has made it difficult for them to apply for jobs.
“Mag-a-apply iyong mga mamber ko sa pabrika. [Sabi nila], paano ‘yan ‘di kami binigyan sa barangay, ano ang gagawin namin (My members are trying to apply for a factory. But they can’t proceed because the barangay won’t give them the certificate),” said Rosalita Fortaleza, one of the community leaders.
Fortaleza said that the barangay refused to issue them the document because they need to present an entry pass from the National Housing Authority (NHA).
“(Sabi ng barangay) bibigyan namin kayo basta may entry pass, tanggap na kayo sa barangay na ito. Iyon ang pinaglalaban namin. Hanggang ngayon, 9 na buwan na kami sa Pandi, wala pa kaming entry pass,” she added.
(The barangay said they will give us the document as long as we have the entry pass. That’s what we’re fighting for. We have been in Pandi for 9 months but we still don’t have that entry pass.)
The NHA, however, can’t issue the passes in the absence of a legal cover from Congress authorizing the redistribution of the housing units to beneficiaries other than government security personnel such as the police and the military, the original beneficiaries of the housing site.
Senate Joint Resolution 8 is still up for 2nd reading, while House Joint Resolution 15, has already hurdled the 3rd and final reading.
According to Fortaleza, they would pay the monthly premium for the houses if this issue is resolved through a dialogue with the government.
Call for dialogue
The barangay certification was among the concerns the group wanted to discuss with the NHA when they went to the main office in Quezon City on Wednesday, November 22.
Bea Arellano, Kadamay national chairperson, said they reached out to NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr several times, but to no avail.
“We have been asking for a dialogue to update us on the status of our agreements, especially that the [House] has released their resolution….We contacted them so that we can sit down and talk about updates but they won’t respond to us,” she said in Filipino.
The latest information they have, she said, is that 6,000 of the 8,000 Kadamay occupants were up for processing as of July 16.
They also called for the release of the P1.8-billion convergence fund of the NHA with the Presidential Commission of the Urban Poor, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, for the provision of basic social services in the housing sites.
The Kadamay protest on Wednesday, however, turned violent when they got through the NHA gates, prompting the police to respond by hosing them down with water.
Protester Paul Reyes – a member of Migrante that joined the demonstration – was arrested. He was charged with malicious mischief, violation of the Public Assembly Act of 1985, concealment of name, and direct assault.
Rappler the NHA’s comment but the Office of the General Manager said they will address the issue at their regular media conference set for next week. – Rappler.com
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