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Other issues, actions may arise after Kadamay

When President Duterte decided to let the homeless Kadamay people keep the vacant housing units they had taken over in Pandi, Bulacan, last March, that was not supposed to be the end of the story. The government has to take the necessary steps to legitimize the illegal take-over. The units must be properly assigned to families whose responsibilities would be specified in agreements with the National Housing Authority.

The process would understandably take time and considerable discussion and paperwork. The leaders of Kadamay would have to meet with the officials of the NHA and other government agencies concerned with housing – all with the goal of putting the case of the anarchic takeover to rest, lest it lead to further anarchy , not just in housing but in other areas of government.

Last Sunday, about two weeks after the Kadamay families were allowed to stay in the Pandi housing project, the town officials led by Mayor Celestino Marquez said they have now inherited the problem of the Kadamay families who have no jobs and no opportunities of any kind, who need social services like schools and health centers which Pandi, with its limited resources, cannot now provide.

More than just straightening out the records on who lives in what housing unit, there is need for the government to continue looking after the basic needs of the Kadamay people. Their leaders claim the government has the duty to provide them with decent housing.

Indeed the law, RA 7279, mandates the government to undertake a housing program for the underprivilged, in cooperation with the private sector, to “make available to them decent housing at affordable cost, basic services, and employment opportunities.” But the reality is that that millions of Filipinos today are jobless and there is a housing backlog of 5.5 million as of the end of 2016, and the government simply does not have the means to make substantial dents on the employment and housing problems.

Far off to the north in Tarlac province, farmers belonging to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) this last weekend took possession of some 500 hectares of land which Hacienda Luisita had sold to a bank in 2006, claiming the land is part of the 4,915 hectares covered by the stock-distribution option, one of the ways farmers of the hacienda benefited from agrarian reform. The KMP people must have encouraged by the example of the Kadamay people who took over the Pandi housing units.

We hope that the Kadamay initiative has not started a movement that will be difficult to control because there are simply too many cases of impropriety, of inaction, of inadequacy, of injustice that have piled up over the years. But the government, under the new administration’s policy of change, must do what it can to straighten out the accumulated problems one at a time. It can start with the Kadamay folk in Pandi, Bulacan.