Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Urban poor picket NHA to demand condonation of loan interest

Press Release
February 10, 2009
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino

Some 300 residents of Sapang Palay in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan and Barangay Timbao in Binan, Laguna trooped this afternoon to the main office of the National Housing Authority in Quezon City to press for condonation of onerous interest and penalties on their housing loans. While the protesters were picketing the NHA premises, their leaders held a dialogue with housing officials.

“A moratorium on demolitions and evictions together with condonation of penalties and interests on low-cost and socialized housing loans must be declared. The least that the government could do in a time of crisis is to refrain from destroying the houses and livelihood of the poor. The only exception to the ban on demolitions is when relocation negotiated with and agreed upon by the affected communities,” declared Jess Panis, spokesperson of the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP).

The bulk of the rallyists came from the AMP and Zone One Tondo Organization in Sapang Palay while a contingent came from AMP-Laguna together with supporters from the Partido ng Manggagawa. The groups are also calling for a pro-poor implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the recently passed Republic Act 9507 providing for a loan restructuring and condonation program for socialized and low-cost homeowners. They allege that in the absence of an IRR, housing agencies are foreclosing houses of residents who would otherwise have benefited from the law.

The protesters from Laguna were disqualified on anomalous grounds by the NHA from benefiting from the relocation program for South Rail residents. In protest, they have occupied vacant housing units in Southville V, a relocation area for displaced South Rail residents.

“We are the Pinoy version of ‘subprime homeowners’ who must be bailed out similar to Barack Obama’s plan to rescue poor Americans who are burdened with mortgages and threatened with foreclosure,” insisted Michael Dasigan, a leader of AMP-Laguna.

The Sapang Palay residents are also demanding the following:
1. Implementation of P15,000 costing of lots with no interest for homeowners who acquired rights before 1986;
2. Stop to upfront payment of P3,500 for survey costs, should be added instead to monthly amortization;
3. Entry of new applicants to vacant lots;
4. Survey of lots that are without markers.

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