Beneficiaries waive ownership of nearly 2,000 Bulacan housing units

MANILA, Philippines – Almost 2,000 units intended for police and soldiers in Pandi, Bulacan are a step closer to redistribution to other beneficiaries, including members of urban poor group Kadamay. 

National Housing Authority (NHA) Architect Susan Nonato said on Monday, October 23, that 480 beneficiaries from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and 1,500 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) already waived ownership of the houses awarded to them. 

Nonato, who heads the AFP-PNP Housing Project, said they are now waiting for the approval of the resolution authorizing them to redistribute the houses to other beneficiaries such as government employees and poor families.

Last March, thousands of Kadamay members forcibly occupied idle housing units in Pandi after failed dialogues with the NHA. The housing units, including the ones originally intended for police and soldiers, have been unoccupied for years.

President Rodrigo Duterte intervened by granting the houses to Kadamay and promising troops new and improved houses.

The NHA then sought a resolution from the Senate and the House of Representatives to re-award the houses specified for the AFP and the PNP under the 2013 and 2014 national budgets.

The joint resolution has since been approved on 3rd and final reading in the House, but it remains pending for 2nd reading in the Senate. Upon approval, Duterte would still have to sign the resolution, as good as a law. 

Joint resolution 

The joint resolution (House Resolution 15 / Senate Resolution 7) provides the "immediate awarding" of the following units to "other qualified beneficiaries": 

"It was already announced by [Congress] that the resolution will be released. There are already guidelines for implementation once the order is released," Nonato said. 

Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Chairperson Eduardo del Rosario earlier said that some 4,700 Kadamay members are qualified to be awarded NHA houses.

Kadamay has taken over around 6,000 units in Bulacan – 2,150 of which are under the AFP-PNP Housing Project. (READ: Occupy Bulacan: How the urban homeless won shelter)

Nonato said that if the "number of interested parties" would be more than the available houses, they may distribute the units through a raffle system. 

Kadamay chairperson Gloria Arellano called on the NHA to use the joint resolution to distribute the houses to informal settler families. (READ: Why P600-a-month housing is still a burden to the poor)

"We call for the use of all idle housing for the poorest and homeless, including those built for ISF (informal settler families) that have been left to rot for so long. However, this will solve only a portion of the problem. The government must enact a genuine mass housing program that caters to housing rights of the people for decent and affordable shelter," said Arellano. 

Kadamay also claimed that the NHA has an untouched fund of around P1.8 billion for 2017 that could have been used to provide basic services in Bulacan sites that still do not have electricity and water supply.

The NHA, however, denied this. "These projects are in-city projects with ongoing public bidding. That's what they are referring [to that have an] untouched budget for 2017," explained NHA Engineer Victor Balba. – Rappler.com 

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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