Karapatan supports urban poor’s campaign to “Occupy Bulacan”

“Karapatan supports the occupy movement of the urban poor in Bulacan who, since March 8, 2017, has started occupation of 5,208 idle housing units in five separate sites in Pandi and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay on the “Occupy Bulacan” campaign led by the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY).

Photo by Kadamay 

“Housing is among the social services that have been privatized by the government to make profit out of the poverty of the poor majority, in cahoots with big private corporate firms. Housing units being provided through the National Housing Authority have poor and unlivable quality, are too costly for the urban poor, and/or very far from workplaces. With the high rate of unemployment and under-employment in the Philippines, most of the urban poor are employed in the so-called informal sector, which does not afford them any social insurance or legal guarantees. This campaign is the urban poor’s response to neoliberal policies that rid them of their access not just to housing, but all social services,’ Palabay said.

The National Housing Authority (NHA) reported that out of 52, 341 housing units available nationwide, only 8, 327 had been occupied. At least 10,000 of those idle relocation units, located in Bulacan, have been the subject of the “Occupy” campaign. The NHA said that those unoccupied houses have, or will be awarded to beneficiaries, and that many of the houses, although vacant, already have occupants. 

“Agencies who criticize this campaign are those who have miserably failed in providing housing services and in ensuring that processes are fast and units are affordable and accessible. These government agencies have turned housing into a profit-making scheme. Such is why we support this campaign and forward the call for an affordable, democratic and mass-oriented housing program outside the framework of privatization,” Palabay said. 

“The plight of the urban poor has been constantly overlooked and ignored by the government. For so long a time, they have been considered as dregs of society, and with the Duterte regime’s Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel, they have become legitimate targets of the police. We remind this government that poverty is not a crime, and eradicating poverty is not tantamount to eradicating the poor. We likewise challenge the government to seriously undertake long-term and rehabilitative programs that will lead to a life of dignity for the Filipino people,” Palabay ended.