Solon seeks probe on Bulacan housing takeover

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2017 03:50 PM | Updated as of Mar 29 2017 05:20 PM

MANILA - A lawmaker has called for an inquiry into homeless families' takeover of government housing units in Bulacan.

Urban poor group Kadamay broke into several idle and still uncompleted units in Pandi and in San Jose Del Monte City earlier this month to protest the government’s supposed neglect of their shelter needs. 

The units, supposedly intended for soldiers, policemen, firemen and jail personnel, still lack electricity and water supply.

Negros Occidental 3rd District Representative Alfredo Benitez, chairman of House committee on housing sought the probe, hoping to find out the root of the protest.

"The way they did it is definitely illegal and definitely something that we should not condone, but what are they clamoring for? This is exactly what we want to find out," he said in an interview with ANC's Headstart Wednesday.

"If you look at it, the issue is housing, and it’s something maybe the government should take a look at," he added.

Benitez also maintained that the protesters are clamoring a "valid issue" hence the reluctance from government to enforce the eviction order earlier issued against them.

Charging them with trespassing may be the "legal approach," said Benitez, "but whether it is morally right or something that we should do is something that we probably have to discuss."

Kadamay and other militant groups trooped to the National Housing Authority Friday last week to call for the lifting of the eviction notice issued against them. 

The NHA announced on Monday that it will not push through with the eviction scheduled for Tuesday.

IS IT SUCCESSFUL?

In the House investigation, they are also hoping to look into the effectivity of the government's housing program, said Benitez. 

"Let’s take a look at the program of the AFP, PNP—whether the take-up of these housing units is actually being used by our uniformed men. Do they like it? Is it a successful program?," he said.

Quoting unverified reports, Benitez said "only 20 percent of the housing units is actually being taken up by our uniformed men" and the remaining 80 percent is vacant. 

"During my discussion with NHA, they want to open it up because those units that have been built might forever be idle if nobody will take it up," he said.

"So instead of waiting for uniformed men to take it, offer it to other people. It’s built and it’s almost finished, might as well offer it to other groups," he added.

However, the NHA fears there might be a "technical malversation" when they do so because the funds appropriated for the project states the housing is for the military and the police.

"It has to go back to Congress to allow them to give it to other groups ...You have to open it up, in case there are no takers, the NHA will be allowed to give it to other groups," he added.