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Lawyers insist Kadamay 'occupation' in Pandi has legal basis

InterAksyon logo InterAksyon 3/18/2017 InterAksyon

MANILA - As sympathizers and groups supportive of the occupation of 5,000 housing units in Pandi, Bulacan motored to the area on Saturday, March 18, bringing water, food and basic supplies for urban poor families threatened with eviction, the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers released a statement saying the occupation has legal basis.

Furthermore, NUPL called for the investigation of corruption and criminal negligence of the National Housing Authority in wasting billions of pesos in public funds toward the construction of the abandoned housing units in the midst of pervasive homelessness.

"Much have been said about the KADAMAY's occupation of rotting and unoccupied government re-settlement housing projects in several towns in Bulacan, with the National Housing Authority harping on the supposed illegality of the act. NUPL asserts that, not only is KADAMAY's act with legal basis but the dismal state of poverty, unemployment and homelessness in the country has forced the people to assert their rights to occupy said housing projects," the statement declared.

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NUPL further stated, "the government's economic policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization has further impoverished the people and practically rendered millions unemployed. Many were left without any choice but to live and stay in the squalors of urban poor communities with their children exposed to the elements and the diseases that go with being without a decent shelter.

"While government allows the demolition of urban poor communities, it has failed to provide decent housing for the dislocated families despite the billions of tax payers money spent on housing.

"In the case of the Bulacan housing project, billions of pesos, instead of being spent for those who urgently need housing, were misdirected and poured into housing projects for policemen who do not urgently need it, as these units have remained unoccupied."

NUPL argued that there is no evident Governmental plan to address the situation and, in the long term, to improve the lives of our urban poor communities.

"Clearly, NHA and the government needed to react fast and correct the improper use of public funds in Bulacan. Government could have allowed Kadamay and the people to occupy these empty units while assuring the affected police and military personnel, who were in no rush to live in these units anyway, of another housing project.

"The government's blind obsession to its bureaucratic procedures over the substantial rights of the people only worsened the situation and only diverts attention from the real issue – government's criminal neglect of providing social services to the people.

"NHA insistence on what it mistakenly considers “the rule of law", which Pres. Duterte once called a 'stupid proposition' is not only hypocritical but intended to cover up corruption in government projects."

The right to adequate housing, NUPL said, is universally recognized as "part of the right to adequate standard of living under the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights."

In other jurisdictions, the right to livelihood and shelter is an important component of the right to life, the statement of NUPL pointed out.

"The occupation of KADAMAY, therefore, stems from this constitutional provision, which government has not only failed to implement but also violated for years. Within this context, the people, especially those who need them the most, are entitled to demand and assert such rights."

NUPL called for the investigation and prosecution of public officials, "including those in the NHA whose inefficiency, bureaucracy and corruption has allowed billions of public funds to be wasted in unoccupied housing units while millions are homeless and many, especially children, die in the streets due to lack of shelter."

"We call on the Government to take the appropriate steps and measures to recognize their possession and ownership and to protect them from attempts to evict them from the said housing projects. The developers and other interested entities have already benefited from these housing projects amassing millions in profit, it is about time for the Government to take the side of those it promised to serve and protect – the poor and marginalized people." (With a report from Diego Mora, InterAksyon)

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