Taking what is not theirs
THE illegal occupation of government-built housing units in Pandi, Bulacan, by members of the urban poor group Kadamay is an example of two conditions that afflict our society.
On one hand, we have an inept and inefficient government bureaucracy that has left thousands of low-cost houses—earmarked for police and squatters whose houses had been demolished or those who had been moved out of danger zones—unoccupied, presumably because the paperwork on them has not bee completed.
On the other hand, we have poor people who believe that the rest of society owes them free housing, and leftist groups that have convinced them that unlike the rest of us who must work hard, pay our taxes and save what is left over to rent or buy our homes, they only need to assert their “right” to free shelter, regardless of the laws that the rest of us must observe.
Thus, when more than 1,000 poor members of the leftist group Kadamay stormed into an NHA subdivision in Pandi, Bulacan, and occupied the housing units meant for somebody else, that, in their eyes, was all right. That was just a form of “social and economic justice.”
That, in the opinion of the leftist Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, was not anarchy but a protest “done in an organized and deliberate manner.”
“The occupation seeks government recognition of the rights of the poor and the awarding of housing units to families that joined the protests,” the group said in a statement.
This is utter nonsense.
If a gang of armed men—let us say they are poor—rob a bank “in an organized and deliberate manner,” does that make the act of robbery all right?
Would Bayan come to their aid and argue that the robbery seeks government recognition of the rights of the poor and insist that the stolen money be awarded to them?
What Kadamay, their constituents and their leftist supporters conveniently forget when they rail against the “blatant anti-poor and neo-liberal” policies is that they, too, trample on other people’s rights. When squatter families occupy private land, they intrude on another person’s legitimate property rights. When they do the same on government land, they impinge on the rights of taxpayers who fund the operations of government, and who rightly demand that the rules are for everybody, not just those who can afford to follow them.
In taking over government housing units in Bulacan, Kadamay and its followers have taken something that is not theirs. In most societies, that’s called stealing.