BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Led by leftist urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), around 1,500 people started to camp out at a government housing site for cops and soldiers in Barangay Felisa here on Thursday, August 30.
Informal settlers, who brought clothes from different areas in Negros Occidental were looking to occupy the housing units intended for men in uniform which have remained mostly unoccupied for years.
Berlita Ante, secretary-general of Kadamay in Negros, said they will stay at the village until officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) face them and address their concern.
She said they will only stay outside the housing units, where they already set up makeshift tents, and will not occupy the houses.
Of the 1,500 housing units, only 8 were currently occupied.
Local NHA officials led by Bacolod office project manager Alejandro Ongsuco later met with the informal settlers, who were accompanied by the local leaders of the progressive groups here.
Ongsuco stressed they have already set up a meeting with the PNP and AFP officials on September 7 to come up with a solution.
The NHA officials told the leaders of the informal settlers that the housing units were already awarded to the PNP and AFP personnel, and that they are already awaiting the installation of water and power facilities.
But Kadamay Negros spokesperson Ereneo Longinos and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)-Negros Occidental spokesperson Noly Rosales pointed out the resolution signed by President Rodrigo Duterte that authorizes the NHA to reallocate unoccupied housing units awarded to policemen, soldiers, firemen, and jail personnel to other qualified beneficiaries.
Duterte signed the resolution in May.
They said they will stay at the housing village until a solution favorable to the urban poor will be reached.
Meanwhile, policemen, soldiers, firemen and jail personnel who owned the housing units are paying P200 per month for each unit for 25 years.
NHA said the houses were built in 2012 and completed in 2015.
In May this year, however, he approved a congressional resolution allowing the NHA to turn over unoccupied housing units intended for government personnel in uniform. – Rappler.com