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Wrong signals from Du30’s Kadamay order

/ 12:12 AM April 12, 2017

Is the Kadamay problem in Pandi, Bulacan, finally over? Or has it invited a bigger problem instead?

Here are the basic facts:

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  1. To own a house is the ultimate dream of every person. It confers a feeling of pride, security and well-being.
  1. The urban poor are one of the most impoverished sectors in Philippine society. They are extremely harassed and often evicted from their abodes, to be relocated to distant areas where water, schools and jobs are virtually nonexistent.
  1. Studies show that there are available vacant lots in the cities, making in-city relocation of the urban poor possible and practicable. Some are government, others are private. The private lots could be made available to the urban poor if their owners and government could agree on a mutually advantageous purchase price.

The following are the mandates of the National Housing Authority (NHA):

  1. Develop and implement a comprehensive and integrated housing development and resettlement program;
  1. Formulate and enforce general and specific policies for housing and resettlement;
  1. Prescribe guidelines and standards for reservation, conservation and utilization of public lands for housing and development;
  1. Promote housing development by providing technical assistance.

If the NHA follows these mandates, urban poor groups would not be demonstrating in massive numbers in places where newly constructed housing units are located. Similarly, they would not be massing in front of the NHA office in Quezon City.

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But here’s the rub!

Many members of the urban poor groups decry the unfair assignment of houses to people with good connection to high government officials; and a so-called housing mafia, in connivance with fake owners, selling housing units to the prejudice of deserving grantees.

Unfortunately, one can only hope that the intervention of President Duterte in granting outright the housing units to Kadamay members would quiet down the noise, and everybody would be happy at the end of the day.

But we may be in for a rude awakening. There is now a real danger that the President’s outright granting of the rights to own contested housing units in Pandi would send a wrong signal to other informal settlers in other parts of the country. They may now think that to own a piece of property they only have to set aside existing laws, policies and procedures as long as a strong leader like Mr. Duterte has their backs.

Thus, floodgates to anarchy might have been opened and now threaten the very concept of private property. In fact, there are already examples that show landless urban dwellers (formerly, called squatters) forcibly occupying vacant spaces, ignoring the right of legitimate owners.

To own a house is of primordial importance to our poor kababayans. And it invites celebrations when even just one of them who has been literally living in the streets gets a house of his own.

But it is also very important for the poor to learn that there are rules and policies in a democratic society, which even a president should observe to ensure the smooth running of a country. Let it not be forgotten that notwithstanding a creeping dictatorship, the Philippines is not under mob rule, but is still a democracy.

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CARLOS ISLES, [email protected]

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TAGS: Bulacan, Duterte, housing, Kadamay, letter, Letter to the Editor, NHA, opinion
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