MANILA, Philippines – Two days after inspecting a government housing site in Bulacan, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano said the takeover of the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) threatens security and democracy in the Philippines.
“Ang mga gawaing katulad nito ay nagbibigay ng maling mensahe sa taumbayan na lumabag sa proseso at sa batas. Nagpapakita din ito ng kawalan ng kontrol at desisyon sa panig ng gobyerno na ipatupad ang kanyang polisiya,” said Alejano in a statement on Thursday, April 27.
(These actions give the wrong message to the public to disobey the law. This also shows the government's lack of control and decisiveness in implementing policies.)
Led by Kadamay, some 6,000 families occupied resettlement areas of the National Housing Authority (NHA) in Pandi, Bulacan last month, dubbed “Occupy Bulacan.”
Kadamay said the takeover was in response to the continuing government "inaction" on distributing housing units that have been unoccupied for at least 5 years.
Alejano, who filed a resolution calling for a probe into Occupy Bulacan, then joined several lawmakers in inspecting the government housing site two days ago. He also joined the inspection headed by Senate Housing Committee Chairperson Joseph Victor Ejercito and his House counterpart, Negros Occidental Representative Alfredo Benitez last Tuesday, April 25.
Eleven out of the 18 NHA housing projects in Central Luzon are found in Pandi, Bulacan. Out of the 11, two housing projects are for the military and the police as well as employees of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
But according to Alejano, Kadamay already occupied 1,483 units supposedly set aside for the police and military, and another 500 units for the BJMP and BFP. (READ: Bulacan housing payments drop after Kadamay takeover)
The mutineer-turned-lawmaker also said Kadamay members have set up checkpoints, making it difficult for beneficiaries to enter their own homes.
“Out of 11 NHA housing projects, 7 were intruded by Kadamay and [they] occupied a total of 5,278 units. Naglagay ang Kadamay ng mga checkpoints at kanilang kinontrol ang paglabas-pasok sa mga nasakop na mga housing projects (Kadamay set up checkpoints to control the flow of people entering and leaving the housing projects),” said Alejano.
“Pati mga dati nang beneficiaries ay nahirapang pumasok dahil hinihingan sila ng ID. Sila pa raw ang matapang,” he added.
(Even the other beneficiaries find it difficult to answer because they are being asked to give their ID. They’re being told they have the guts.)
‘Paid memberships’, gadgets, cars in housing units
Alejano, who filed the first impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte, claims Kadamay members even guard empty housing units. Local officials, he said, find a hard time entering the premises as well.
“Ito ay binibigay nila sa mga bagong recruits na mula rin sa (They give these to new recruits who are also from) Pandi, Bulacan in exchange for some amount, for membership,” said Alejano.
He claimed other Pandi residents said their house helpers end up being recruited to occupy the empty housing units. Alejano said these “new recruits” undergo an “orientation” where they are supposedly taught how to use a gun.
“Ito ay sensitibo at kailangang i-validate (This is a sensitive matter and must be validated),” he said.
Since the Kadamay takeover, collections in the government housing project dropped by 50%.
When lawmakers inspected the housing units, Alejano saw Kadamay protesters holding touch screen phones. He said he also found some parked cars, fighting cocks, and even a flat screen television in some units.
“Gabi-gabi daw ay parang may party sa loob ng housing projects. May malalakas na sound system at nagbo-bonfire ang mga miyembro ng Kadamay. Natatanong tuloy ng iba kung saan sila kumukuha ng pambayad sa mga sound system,” said Alejano.
(Every night, there seems to be a party being held inside the housing projects. Kadamay members use loud sound systems and hold bonfires. Others are now asking where they are getting the money for the sound system.)
He then claimed the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Demoractic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) are using Kadamay as a front.
“Sila ang nagsisilbing panangga ng NPA. Sila ang nagsusulong ng adhikain ng CPP-NPA sa iba’t ibang sector gamit ang mga lehitimong hinaing ng mga sectors na ito. Dinidiinan ang kakulangan ng gobyerno upang mapahina ito at hindi upang ayusin ang mga problema,” he said.
(They are serving as a front of the NPA. They are pushing forward what the CPP-NPA wants in other sectors by using the legitimate concerns of this sector. They are focusing on the government’s shortcomings to weaken it, not to address the problem.)
Duterte already agreed to give the housing units in Bulacan to Kadamay, but he also promised police and military personnel that he will give them better housing units by December.
Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler
During the Tuesday inspection, the lawmakers, Alejano included, also received complaints about Kadamay from the families who were the first settlers in the Pandi sites.
Corazon Teneza, leader of Pandi Residences 1 Homeowners Association said that the takeover of Kadamay has stopped the construction in one of their occupied sites, leaving some of them jobless.
"Kami po nasa Pandi Village 1, ang mga tao po doon ay pinakausap namin sa Atlantica (developer) na maging trabahador ni Pandi Village 2. Hindi na po sila makapagtrabaho dahil si Kadamay na nagma-manage ng [Pandi Village 2]," said Teneza.
(We are in Pandi Village 1. We asked developer Atlantica to employ people in our site to work in Pandi Village 2. But the workers are unable to enter there because Kadamay has taken over the management of Pandi Village 2.)
"Kapag 'di pinapasok ni Kadamay iyong mga trabahador ng Atlantica, wala na magko-construct doon, wala nang makakain." she added.
(If Kadamay members bar Atlantica workers from entering, no one will work there, our families will starve.)
She also lamented how the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) brought in relief for the Kadamay members at the height of the occupancy.
"Nakakainis, nakakaasar. Bakit dalawang linggo lang sila rito meron na silang supply ng pagkain? Kami, nung nilipat dito di man lang nila naisip na iyong mga nailipat natin doon sa mga pabahay na iyon... kung kumakain pa ba yang mga yan," said Teneza.
(It's pissing me off. They've been here for two weeks and they already have food supply? We, when we were relocated here, they didn't think if those they relocated in those housing sites are even eating.)
The DSWD Field Office in Region 3 released around 2,100 food packs for some 3,000 families of Kadamay last March – a move that has been criticized since social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo and Kadamay are both aligned with the Left. – with reports from Patty Pasion/Rappler.com