Awarding of seized housing bad precedent

>> Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Members of a militant urban poor group who illegally and forcibly occupied government housing units in Pandi, Bulacan recently should pay for the houses even if President Duterte had allowed them to keep these.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito made this statement after housing units intended for personnel of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines to be paid in low monthly installments were instead taken over by the group.
 Duterte awarded the houses to members of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) after they illegally took over the units.
Ejercito, who chairs the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement, said it would be unfair if Kadamay members would get the housing units for free because government spent for these for intended beneficiaries.
Ejercito added even low-salaried government workers work hard to get their own homes, so it will be unfair if members of Kadamay get the units just like that.
The President warned it would be the last time he would allow such actions from the militant group even as the Senate panel with its counterpart from the House of Representatives, led by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, initiated an inquiry into the government’s housing programs following Kadamay’s takeover.
Ejercito and Benitez, chairman of the House committee on housing and urban development, inspected the housing units in Pandi Tuesday and held dialogues with local officials and executives of the National Housing Authority.
Following this, Benitez said he would push for immediate passage of a law to allow the NHA to award the housing units to Kadamay.
This is unfair to millions of Filipinos who pay their taxes diligently only to find their money is used to build housing units and given for free to people who just forcibly move into these without paying a single cent.
Now Benitez wants resettlement projects for “informal settlers” who should instead be called plain illegal squatters or lot and house grabbers. 
According to Benitez, the illegal takeover of the housing units underscored the need for government to address the country’s housing problems. Correct, but rewarding people who broke the law instead of punishing them is wrong.   
The Senate and House initiated an inquiry into the takeover of vacant housing units built for soldiers and policemen in Pandi and San Jose del Monte City. The public awaits outcome of these inquiries.
Bulacan police reported around 5,000 individuals have occupied housing units in San Jose Heights, Villa Elise, Pandi Residences 3, Pandi Village 2 and Padre Pio.
According to the NHA, at least 4,000 socialized housing units in these areas were invaded by the urban poor settlers.
The illegal takeover of the housing units in Bulacan has set a precedent that it is alright to take over a government housing facility even if you don’t own it and didn’t pay for it.
Now even government employees are saying they need not apply for housing units and pay for it monthly from their measly salaries since they can just look for a vacant unit and occupy it.

This has to stop and illegal occupants should instead be driven out from units they illegally occupied, otherwise this could be replicated by other groups nationwide. In simple words, don’t take what is not yours, because if you do, the law will get you. We don’t see that happening in the Pandi case. 


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