An urgent appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing: support #OccupyBulacan from eviction
KADAMAY, a national alliance of urban poor Filipinos that last March 8 led a successful campaign to occupy thousands of idle homes in resettlement sites, with the support of IAI ha sent an urgent Appel to Leilani Fahra, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Right ton Housing, to take action in order to address the demands and concerns of the homeless and urban poor. There is an air of urgency as the eviction is imminent and the occupation itself is the largest organized occupation by poor Filipinos in recent history.
Ms. Leilani Fahra
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing
We are writing to you from the Philippines on behalf of the current occupation of more than 5,000 idle homes in Bulacan, a province nearby Metro Manila. KADAMAY is a national alliance of urban poor Filipinos and last March 8, we led a successful campaign to occupy thousands of idle homes in resettlement sites. Women took the lead on this occasion marking International Women’s Day as well.
The occupation is a result of the failure of the National Housing Authotity (NHA) and the national government to heed the demands of the poor for housing rights. Last year, we held five dialogues with shelter agencies concerning the state of relocation sites. We aired our demands along with thousands of representatives yet these were left on deaf ears, even at the Presidential palace.
Aside from having severely inadequate public facilities and utilities like water and electricity, there are sky high amortization costs. This is on top of the glaring lack of employment opportunities. One of the more apparent issues is the number of people in relocation sites without actual housing units. Many of the people are renters, sharers and homeless.
The NHA has already admitted in past years that the number one problem of relocation sites is the exodus back to the cities. People simply cannot cope with the costs that require you to pay up to 500,000 pesos over a period of 30 years. To gain water and electricity, even for limited times, they are forced to pay rates higher than that of Manila since private corporations monopolize utilize in these areas.
The occupation was very much met with disdain by government and housing officials. Police and military have been deployed for constant harassment, food blockades have been setup to starve the occupants. There are also smear campaigns that say we are threatening violence against other residents or that we took the housing units from other beneficiaries. In truth, many of the thousands of homes (15 to 20 thousand) have been idle for 5 years or more. Only dust, vegetation and insects reside in those homes.
A study by the NHA itself last September that only 8% of around 60,000 homes erected for Police and Military personnel were occupied. This is only the ones made for the authorities. Many others are vacant because the government will not allow anyone to live there without going through a rigorous, taxing and unjust amortization scheme.
While there has been support from many marginalized groups and sectors, the President has now echoed and formalized the eviction notice against the occupation. The eviction is set on March 27. We find it extremely ironic, how the government touts its process of acquiring housing, lambasts for not committing to the process (even if we had several dialogues) and yet can manage to stage an eviction in a matter of days.
Our occupation highlights a humanitarian and housing crisis of the homeless in the country. This was an organized efforts in assertion of the rights of the poor that have been neglected and exploited in so far as we can remember. The failure of the housing officials and the national government to fulfill its duty to the poor is what prompted this and they are the ones who should be evicted.
At the moment, we keep our barricades strong and are seeking greater support from all over the world. We have already met with representatives of Congress and they have filed an inquiry into the House of Representatives into the housing problem. However, now the president seems intent on the eviction.
We implore your office to take any action you deem appropriate to address the demands and concerns of the homeless and urban poor. There is an air of urgency to this matter as the eviction is imminent and the occupation itself is the largest organized occupation by poor Filipinos in recent history. We thank you and hope for your swift and kind response.
Our demands as currently presented are:
1. Immediately pull out military and police forces from the occupied relocation sites.
2. Recognize the legitimacy of members to occupy the housing units and freely distribute them to members.
3. Immediately distribute all idle housing units in PNP/AFP/BJMP/BFP resettlement sites to homeless citizens. KADAMAY is willing to work in this process
4. Provide food, water and other basic services to all relocation sites including the five relocation sites.
5. Provide free and mass housing to all homeless.
KADAMAY Information Officer