MANILA - The Philippine government cannot give away houses for free, Senate Housing Committee Chief JV Ejercito said Friday, days after members of urban poor group Kadamay tried to illegally occupy housing units in Rizal.
"Hindi puwede ang libre. There is no such thing as free. Even the 1987 Constitution says the government should provide affordable housing. It doesn't say free housing," Ejercito said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
The urban poor group is known for forcibly occupying government housing units that already belong to other indigent Filipinos who pay a monthly amortization to the government.
Last year, hundreds of Kadamay members illegally occupied housing units built for soldiers and policemen in Pandi, Bulacan.
"It's very unfair because these people have been paying amortization for as low as P200 to P300 a month which is very, very affordable," Ejercito said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday warned Kadamay members that police will be directed to "kill if necessary" should the group attempt another takeover of housing units.
In a separate interview, Kadamay national chairperson Gloria "Ka Bea" Arellano insisted that the group did not intend to illegally occupy the houses in Rizal.
"Ang nangyari noong Miyerkoles ay 'bantay-bahay,'" Arellano said citing reports that housing intended for Kadamay members were being given away to other beneficiaries.
(What happened last Wednesday was just a guarding of houses.)
The housing units were originally intended for uniformed personnel and their families, records from the National Housing Authority (NHA) showed.
Lawmakers have yet to sign Congressional Joint Resolution No. 2, signed by Duterte last May, which allows the awarding of unoccupied housing units to other qualified beneficiaries like members of the urban poor group.
Ejercito said the legislative is still in the process of passing a law that would create a Department of Housing that would streamline and fasttrack the processing and awarding of the government's housing programs.
"I'm appealing to the members of Kadamay to hopefully practice restraint and give us more time," he said.
"We have 8 key shelter agencies. Each has their own program. We need to move into one direction. We need to have one charter, one blueprint, one direction."