Bishops urge gov’t to resolve housing woes

Bishops urge gov’t to resolve housing woes
Homeless families occupy idle units in housing projects in Pandi, Bulacan. CIRIACO SANTIAGO III

MANILA — Informal settlers who occupied government housing units in Bulacan province should serve as a wake up call for the government to address the country’s housing problem, Catholic bishops said.

Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said the country has a serious housing crisis and it’s high time the government does something about it.

“There is a growing need for the government to look seriously into the problem of housing for the real poor, urban and rural,” said the prelate.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he is giving members of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), an urban poor group, the idle housing units they have been occupying since last month.

The housing project was originally intended for families of soldiers and policemen.

In explaining his decision, Duterte said he wants to avoid violence between the security forces and the more than 6,000 urban homeless families.

Senators Richard Gordon and Panfilo Lacson, however, warned that giving Kadamay members ownership of the illegally acquired housing units may cause anarchy.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the government should also consider its “failure” in delivering services to the poor.

“So it’s not only are the people at fault here but also the government,” said Pabillo, who chairs the bishops’ Commission on the Laity.

“Housing is a basic right, and the government has the duty to provide it. On the other hand, there is process to follow,” he added.

Caritas Philippines executive secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez echoed Pabillo’s statement, saying the “occupy Bulacan” action only indicates the government’s “inefficient” program for the urban poor.

“If Kadamay takes the law into their hand, that’s because they are desperate. They grabbed the opportunity, because they have been excluded in government social program,” he said. CBCPNews