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Apr 26, 2017
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By now, you must have heard the issue of an urban-poor group called Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) which forcibly occupied hundreds of idle housing units in Pandi, Bulacan early last month.

These houses in six different sites were built by the National Housing Authority (NHA) and were mostly intended for government personnel including the police and military.

However, members of Kadamay justified their actions by saying that only 13 percent of the NHA’s 60,000 housing units were occupied, possibly due to the substandard living conditions the small and relatively far from work homes had to offer.

Kadamay also claimed the government has long ago promised to give them proper housing and they are now only taking over the units after the government has failed to fulfill their commitment.

To be fair, they do have a point with the Constitution stating something along the lines of the government’s responsibility to provide an affordable housing program for the poor.

But still, was it really necessary to seize these houses without going through the proper process? And how exactly is this different from the daily drug suspects who are slain without trial?

Going back to the topic, the NHA for its part was initially poised to issue an eviction notice to the Kadamay members.

But on April 4, President Rodrigo Duterte publicly declared that he was giving the housing units to Kadamay so as to avoid violence. Duterte also said that government personnel will be given better, bigger housing units in exchange for the units seized by Kadamay.

The whole incident has resulted with an estimated 50 percent drop in the collection of housing dues at the Bulacan housing site for the month of March. According to the NHA, the people who refuse to pay are reasoning out that Kadamay members get to live in government housing programs for free.

Meanwhile, Senator JV Ejercito who chairs the Senate committee on urban planning and resettlement said Kadamay should still pay for the houses they occupied as it was unfair not to. Ejercito also said the takeover could eventually lead to the collapse of the country’s socialized housing sector if it gets out of hand.

After all these, the Inquirer reported on how Kadamay members expressed their dismay after being tagged as “thieves” and self-entitled freeloaders by the public despite their struggles in life.

So are the members of the Kadamay group really thieves? Or are they merely victims of circumstance? You decide.

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