March 16, 2011
The leaders of hundreds of Dasmarinas low-cost homeowners and poor residents who picketed the city hall yesterday held a dialogue today with City Mayor Jennifer Barzaga. At 1:00 p.m. the leaders of the residents of City Homes and Sibol in Barangay Sta. Fe together with representatives from the Cavite chapters of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) trooped to the meeting with Mayor Barzaga.
“We thank Mayor Barzaga for listening to the demands of her constituents but we hope that the local government sincerely finds a way to meet their housing needs. Affordable and decent housing is a right that the government should promote,” explained Ramil Cangayao, chairperson of PM-Cavite.
At yesterday’s rally, representatives of Mayor Bargaza agreed to set the dialogue today. The 500-strong protesters however were stopped from entering the city hall compound by guards and told to leave since the mayor was not in the premises. But the protesters stood their ground until the city administrator met them.
They will ask Mayor Barzaga for (1) an investigation on the deal between the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. (NHMFC), the developer of the City Homes subdivision and the private financing firm BFS, (2) condonation of the penalties imposed on the homeowners, and (3) restructuring of the housing loans.
The residents of City Homes are facing foreclosure due to the heavy debts incurred when their housing loans were transferred from government-owned NHMFC to BFS. “Residents of City Homes are now saddled with debts that are more than the market value of their houses due to usurious interest and penalties. The transfer happened without the knowledge of the residents. It is like they were ambushed and now they risk losing their homes which they have partially paid for with hard-earned savings,” Cangayao explained.
Meanwhile the informal settlers of the depressed area of Sibol are asking the local government to expropriate the private land on which their houses are built. Cangayao said that “The city of Dasmarinas has the power to expropriate for the purpose of socialized housing through an ordinance. We are calling on Mayor Barzaga and the city council for the ordinance and budget appropriation in the interest of hundreds of families who have lived in Sibol for years already.”
PM together with AMP and Samahang Nagkakaisa ng Cavite have been campaigning for a moratorium on demolitions and foreclosures. The groups are involved in the consultations being held by the cabinet level task force headed by Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo with the mandate to formulate and recommend policy resolutions on the housing issues confronting the urban poor.