Text by Khim Joshua Raymundo
Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay)-San Roque will file charges against the National Housing Authority (NHA) with the aid of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) due to the reduction of housing beneficiaries, exclusion of renters from relocation, and mass demolition.
Around 3,500 residents of Sitio San Roque in Brgy. Bagong Pag-asa, Quezon City are disqualified from relocation due to being incapable of paying monthly amortization of the housing units, and non-participation in the NHA survey, Kadamay-San Roque Chairperson Estrelita “Ka Inday” Bagasbas said.
Residents also experienced heightened police presence and harassment around the area, barring them from repairing their demolished shelters, since the NHA issued a letter of demolition last September.
Under the Urban Development and Housing (UDHA) Act of 1992 (RA 7279), there should be adequate relocation before executing the demolition. However, if relocation is not provided within 45 days from service of notice of the court, financial assistance amounting to P30,000-P35,000 equivalent to 60 days minimum wage salary should be given to the affected families.
Self-demolition is a process in which residents will voluntarily leave the area. In return, the NHA will give financial assistance. However, residents were being harassed and coerced by the police, leaving them no choice but to “voluntarily” exit the area.
Additionally, the NHA only promised to provide P5,000 financial assistance to affected families, which they have yet to receive, according to Bagasbas.
“Hindi nila pinapayagan na itayo ulit ‘yung mga nagibang bahay. Kaya ang mangyayari, dahil sirang-sira na nga ‘yung mga kabahayan, no choice ‘yung iba, mapipilitan na lang sila na umalis,” Bagasbas added.
Sitio San Roque is part of the Quezon City Central Business District project from the joint venture agreement between Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) and NHA. These hectares of land will be converted to residential and commercial establishments.
On November 7, another demolition took place, affecting more than 16 families, Bagasbas said. The demolition will give way to the construction of the Solaire casino.
The demolition had a huge impact on the family of the 21-year-old Arlyn Sable. She said that her husband, who works as a construction worker, was not able to come to work for three consecutive days to clean up the rubble from the demolition.
“Napakahirap. Mga 1,500 na agad ‘yung nabawas sa sweldo ng asawa ko sa tatlong araw na ‘di siya nakapasok dahil nga binantayan niya ‘yung bahay namin. Kaya ngayon nga, bawal na siya umabsent kasi baka tanggalin na siya,” Sable said.
She said that her one-year-old daughter was traumatized because of the demolition. “Tuwing nakakakita siya ng gwardiya, nag-iiiyak siya, nagtatatakbo siya,” she said.
Sable said they were just fortunate enough for the NHA to allow them to stay for a bit longer because she recently just delivered her newborn.
Plight of renters and sharers
Sable, a renter in Sebastian Street in San Roque, said that her family was disqualified from availing NHA housing because they were not surveyed last year. Renters and sharers are not recognized by the NHA, resulting in a large number of residents ineligible for housing.
Renters are residents who pay a fee to house owners, while sharers are those who partly own the house. If the primary owners decide to voluntarily demolish their house, renters and sharers have no choice but to leave.
Sable is not considering the option of going back to her province, Eastern Samar, since their stable source of income is in the metro. “Mas lalo lang kaming maghihirap doon [probinsya]. Kaya hindi ko na alam kung saan kami pupunta kung sakaling tuluyang gibain na ‘yung bahay namin,” she said.
Bagasbas asserts that NHA should recognize all affected residents, not only the house owners who are mostly privileged enough to buy their own houses.
Call for on-site development
San Roque residents condemn the idea of giving financial assistance in place of housing relocation.
“Ang gusto namin, pabahay. ‘Yun talaga ‘yung dati na naming hinihingi sa kanila. Kung hindi man libre, abot-kaya dapat para sa aming mahihirap. Ang pera kasi madali lang ‘yan maubos kaysa sa pabahay, napakalaking tulong ‘yun,” Bagasbas said.
Locals are also demanding relocation with a sustainable livelihood. “Hindi ko naman masisi ‘yung mga iba naming kasamahan na binebenta ‘yung nakuha nilang bahay at bumabalik dito sa San Roque, kasi wala namang kabuhayan doon,” Bagasbas said.
Margie Castillo was initially qualified to be relocated but the NHA later revoked her qualification due to her non-compliance to self-demolition process last November 19. “Ngayon, sinabi na naman nila sa akin, by January daw ay dapat nakaalis na kami,” she said.
Castillo remains firm that she will not accept the NHA housing offer because their livelihood will surely be affected if they are relocated. “Maliit lang kasi ‘yung paglilipatan. Itong tindahan, hindi kasya doon sa paglilipatan, kung sakaling ma-relocate kami,” she said.
Displaced residents are planned to be relocated to Tandang Sora, Pingkian Village, Quezon City once the housing unit has been granted to them, Bagasbas said. She added that the 20-24 square meter housing in the said area only puts the additional burden to families due to its incomplete facilities.
“Blankong bahay lang kasi siya, mismong ‘yung mga tao pa ‘yung maglalagay ng lababo. Pati ‘yung sahig, hindi pa maayos, hindi pa makinis,” Bagasbas said.
Families who will be granted a housing unit in relocation sites will pay nothing during their first year of stay. However, after a year, residents will have to pay monthly amortization amounting to P200 for 25 years.
San Roque residents, meanwhile, assert on-site development instead of leaving the community that they have built over the years. Also, the sitio is strategically located near schools and a work area which is convenient to their circumstances.
“Wala kaming interes magpa-relocate kasi dito na kami umunlad. Kaya kung dadalhin pa kami sa mga relocation [sites], mas lalo kaming maghihirap,” Bagasbas said. TNP