MEMBERS of an urban poor group who occupied housing units meant for soldiers and policemen yesterday said government failed to provide better housing for the people.
Gloria Arellano, chair of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), said the occupation by its members of government housing units in Pandi, Bulacan last month has actually exposed the “sorry state” of government housing projects.
At the hearing of the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement on Kadamay’s occupation of the housing units, Arellano said the units were made of sub-standard materials, and “are so small these could fit only the senators’ dogs.”
She said this is the reason the intended beneficiaries rejected the units.
She said the Pandi housing units had been idle for the two to five years before Kadamay members occupied them. Most are inhabited by animals, insects, and plants. Kadamay took over about 5,000 units in seven housing sites.
Arellano even said if the government does not want the occupation of government housing units to happen again, the completed housing units should be immediately distributed to the poor.
NHA general manager Marcelino Escalada Jr., who was also present in the hearing, said five of the housing sites in Pandi are intended for informal settlers from Metro Manila, while the other two are for military and police personnel with the three lowest ranks. All seven sites have been occupied by Kadamay.
Escalada also said the NHA gave the PNP and AFP until June 15 to submit their list of housing beneficiaries. Otherwise, the NHA will be forced to award the units to other beneficiaries.
Of the 55,000 housing units, 5,000 units were already occupied by Kadamay members.
President Duterte has given the occupied units to Kadamay members, promising that AFP and PNP personnel will be given better and bigger units.
Escalada said the NHA decided to set a deadline to the AFP and PNP so the agency can dispose of the idle housing units.
“We might as well give it (housing units) to other beneficiaries and come up with the better design for them (AFP and PNP),” Escalada said.
The NHA official was responding to the queries of Sen. JV Ejercito, panel chair, on whether the NHA had set a deadline for the intended beneficiary to occupy the housing units.
Escalada said no deadline was ever given since the houses were constructed in 2013.
“We have given enough time to the AFP and PNP (housing) boards to come up with a master list… whether or not those awarded and allocated are still interested to occupy and sign a loan document,” Escalada said.
Escalada also said NHA would need the help of Congress before it could begin the redistribution of housing units.
“We are asking Congress to give us the necessary legislative authority to dispose thee units finally,” he told the committee.
A resolution has been filed by Rep. Alfredo Benitez authorizing the NHA to award the unoccupied and un-awarded AFP, PNP housing units to other beneficiaries.
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