MANILA–Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito on Tuesday described the move of urban poor group Kadamay to forcibly occupy housing units in Bulacan last month as a “wake-up call” for government to provide indigent families with better housing units.
Ejercito, chair of the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement, made this remark during a Senate hearing into resolutions about socialized housing units built by the National Housing Authority (NHA) in Pandi, Bulacan.
“Ang naganap na Occupy Bulacan ay isang alarma para sa gobyerno upang resolbahin ang malawak na krisis sa kawalan ng ligtas at disenteng pabahay. (The Occupy Bulacan incident has alarmed the government to resolve the crisis of lack of decent housing units). This is our wake-up call,” Ejercito said.
To recall, Kadamay justified their move to forcibly occupy the houses saying that the houses, which were intended for members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) were unoccupied and that they did not have decent houses.
Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, for his part, allowed the group to keep the houses noting that they were after all, poor.
Ejercito, meanwhile, described the current housing program of the government as a “sorry state” which must be immediately resolved.
Citing data from the Commission on Audit (COA) in 2015, Ejercito said that only 8.09 percent out of the 57,494 completed housing units under the AFP/PNP Housing Project have been occupied.
Meanwhile, an NHA report in 2016 showed the occupancy rate increased by a mere 13.82 percent.
“It is sad to know that this is how far we have reached. What happened to the thousands of housing projects?” the senator said.
Ejercito vowed to give importance to providing the growing number of homeless families and account for every housing unit built by the government.
He reiterated his proposal to create a Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development to attend to socialized housing projects which would also prioritize in-city, on-site or near-city resettlement.
The senator also recommended the use of other modes for housing delivery like usufruct arrangements and public rental for Metro Manila.