MANILA — Hundreds of members of different progressive sectoral groups travelled from Manila to Bulacan on Saturday, March 18, to show growing support for the urban poor who have occupied idle government housing units in Pandi town.
Students, teachers, health workers, church groups and lawyers are among those who joined the People’s Caravan and visited six occupied sites. These are all housing projects of the National Housing Authority (NHA).
“Urban poor struggles should be celebrated and not vilified. Many government institutions engage in charitable work, but when poor people actually try and make a political statement, they are maligned by public officials,” said Gloria Arellano, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) chairperson.
Groups were warmly welcomed by the urban poor in the occupied sites, saying that such support have boosted their moral.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) also gave support and called the occupation “constitutional.”
In a statement, NUPL said that “right to adequate housing is universally recognized as part of the right to adequate standard of living under the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.” It is also recognized in the 1987 Philippines Constitution under Article XIII Section 9 and 10.
“The occupation of Kadamay, therefore, stems from this constitutional provision which government has not only failed to implement but also violated for years. Within this context, the people, especially those who need them the most, are entitled to demand and assert such right,” the group said.
The NHA has given the occupiers until Monday, March 20 to vacate the houses. Kadamay, however, vowed to remain in the sites and assert their constitutional rights.