• Pandi was a quiet town until ‘Kadamay invasion’

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    EMETERIO SD. PEREZ

    HAVE the informal settlers in Metro Manila already spread their activism to Pandi? From where and who are these people – women actually – who tried to force their will on the rural folks?

    Pandi is one of the more rural towns in Bulacan. It is peaceful because the townspeople are more civil than the group of activists who evicted their fellow poor out of their homes. They have respect for others because, to them, respect is a natural virtue and they need not be formally educated on it.

    How come outsiders disturbed their peace by invading their homes and declared haughtily that they owned their houses? Are these invaders really among the poorest of the poor as they claimed they were? If so, how did they pay their way to a far-flung rural town that is Pandi? They can even afford a Facebook account with well-written entries in English.

    The questions are not addressed to the National Housing Authority (NHA), which is the leading government agency in providing shelter to millions of homeless Filipino families.

    Who else can provide the answers to these posers except the leaders of these outsiders, who turned themselves into invaders?

    Kadamay what?
    It is true that NHA has housing projects in various barangays in Pandi. Unfortunately, a thousand or so individuals who have formed themselves into Kadamay have decided to take over and occupy even the houses that may have already been awarded to legitimate beneficiaries. Don’t they know that the NHA’s waiting list remains too long to read and that only the more patient can endure many years of hoping for a house they can call their own?

    (When Googled, the result showed the meaning of Kadamay, which is Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap, an organization of “urban poor women.”)

    How come Kadamay members were reported to have forcibly evicted the legal occupants of the government’s housing projects in Pandi? Don’t they know anything at all about respect for the rights of others?

    The war over these housing projects has pitted the poor against the poor. Obviously, Kadamay and their proponents have opted to impose their activism on the NHA by arrogantly refusing to undergo the government’s selection procedures.

    The government, through NHA, should not be scared into allocating Kadamay members free houses.

    Rural life
    In the olden days, being poor in Pandi and other towns in Bulacan meant living with fellow poor tenant farmers who never knew anything about agrarian reform.

    Being poor meant playing with the poor children of other poor families in the neighborhood. To those unfamiliar with the rural areas, they should be taught the simplicity of life in the barrio.

    Have anyone among the children of Kadamay members ever experienced walking four to six kilometers to school and back home carrying heavy bags made of bamboos? Yes, the school bags then were made of bamboo sticks tied together to hold books.

    Life in Pandi and its barrios was difficult in those days. Barrio folk survived despite the hardships because of their bayanihan spirit (unity and cooperation). The lack of basic necessities was never a deterrent to honest living. For the town’s young and older folks, honesty was —and still is—the best policy.

    Yes, Kadamay wants houses for its members. Should it be able to force the government into giving the group’s members houses for free, it’s about time everybody joined the organization. Due Diligencer, however, is not certain Kadamay will accept new entrants who can pose competition with its leaders.

    Incidentally, Kadamay should also be told that, like its members, the people of Pandi elect their municipal officials, who faithfully serve them in return for their trust in them.

    Follow procedures
    If Kadamay is a legitimate organization, it should follow the procedures in availing themselves of the government’s housing projects. Its members should be told that these houses are not free; they should be made to understand that they should abide by the NHA’s first-come-first-served policy.

    The government is not, has never been and will never be a charitable organization that is ready to “donate” whatever is asked of it. Kadamay members should fall in line like others who, like them, also urgently need roofs over their heads.

    Kadamay’s kind of activism has no place in the society of the poor, much less in Pandi and its 22 barangays. Every now and then it might succeed in seeking media attention by holding rallies in front of the embassy of the United States of America.

    Yes, of course, Kadamay leaders know fully well that media coverage is a must for their association to get the attention of potential donors.

    As a matter of fact, without the media, Kadamay would end up operating without money. Without funding, it would even be forced to integrate.

    How on earth were Kadamay and its supposed-to-be woman leaders able to reach Pandi and occupy the government’s housing projects if they did not shell out money for transportation fare? Did they walk all the way from Metro Manila and other Bulacan towns to reach the Pandi?

    Now that the NHA knows the reason for Kadamay’s journey to Pandi, will it agree to build houses for the association’s members at the expense of the majority who have for years been waiting to be recognized as qualified beneficiaries? Just asking.

    esdperez@gmail.com

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