PANDI, Bulacan: The National Housing Authority (NHA) admitted on Tuesday that its collection of monthly amortizations declined since the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) occupied housing units in Pandi, Bulacan in March this year.
Romuel Alimboyao of the NHA in Central Luzon told lawmakers that some beneficiaries of housing units who have been paying monthly amortization are now reluctant to pay after learning that Kadamay members got their units for free.
“Our collection was affected since March because legitimate beneficiaries are questioning why they are being asked to pay when members of Kadamay got their houses for free,” he told Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito and other lawmakers who inspected housing units in Pandi on Tuesday.
Ejercito, chairman of the Senate Committee on Urban Planning and Resettlement, and his counterparts at the House of Representatives inspected housing units in Pandi, Bulacan.
NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. confirmed that there was a 50 percent drop in the agency’s collection. He said steps are being taken to stop the further decline of amortization payments.
“We have already mobilized our own people. We have our own collection agents, volunteer people on the ground,” he said.
Escalada said beneficiaries, even Kadamay members, should realize that there is no free housing. “Everyone should pay because that is an obligation on the part of the beneficiaries,” he added.
Ejercito warned that if beneficiaries refuse to pay, the government’s housing program will collapse.
“It’s really worrisome. How can the government construct new housing units if NHA can’t collect from beneficiaries?” the senator pointed out.
Of the 18 relocation sites in Bulacan, 11 are in Pandi.
However, Kadamay members are not yet ready to pay.
Kadamay Chairperson Gloria Arellano noted that the group exhausted all means in fighting for their right to shelter, thus, monthly dues should not serve as a profit scheme but a fund to improve the housing program.
“What they are telling us is [pay]monthly amortization. As it is, the Kadamay members are in crisis, that’s why they occupied these houses. We still have to talk about such payment,” Arellano told reporters.
“If we have decent jobs, we will pay, but such payment should be used to improve the housing program of the government, such as delivering basic services here. After all, 80 percent of the people cannot even afford to pay government housing,” she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte allowed Kadamay members to permanently occupy the units intended for policemen and soldiers.
“We won’t talk about such payment for this ocular visit. Maybe next month. We would be willing to pay if it will be for the housing program because as you can see, there is still a lot to be done,” Arellano said.
Rep. Albee Benitez of Negros Occidental, chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, said that he will file a resolution formalizing the redistribution the Pandi housing units to qualified government employees and informal settlers.
The resolution, he explained, will legalize the occupation of the Pandi houses by Kadamay.
“The houses are too small, and we don’t think it will still be occupied by the soldiers and policemen. The Pandi houses that were built were a mismatch for the intended beneficiaries because they were not consulted about it,” Benitez said. “We also had a verbal agreement with the NHA (National Housing Authority) that they will stop building houses for soldiers and policemen for now, pending consultations, so the same mistakes won’t happen again.”
“Of course, government housing does not come free. We will still have to settle how much they can pay, provided that they have decent job. Otherwise, we will promote a culture of complacency,” he said.