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We beg to differ.


bianca_gonzalezWas it because it was said in Tagalog? Or was it because popular celebrity babe Bianca Gonzalez (with a “z” at the end) tweeted it? Whatever the reason, an outrage fad was born yet again after the modelling and social media superstar let out this gem on Twitter:

Ang dami nating nagtatrabaho para makaipon para sa prime lot at bahay plus buwis pa. Bakit nga ba bine-baby ang mga informal settlers?

Translated:

“So many people working hard to save to buy a house on prime land while paying their taxes. Why do we have to baby these informal settlers?”

It is an old concept. The simple principle behind Gonzalez’s tweet is rule of law and everyone — whether rich or poor — being subject to it. Quite simply, squatters live on land funded by the hard work of somebody else and put a strain on public works and services funded by somebody else’s tax money. I elaborated on this in a previous article Land ownership Hell: The Philippines is Squatter Central when it comes to government subsidies!. This being the Philippines which aspires to be a First World nanny state (despite lacking the cash to achieve that quaint aspiration), applicable laws to combat squatter infestation have been reduced to toothless drivel since the fall of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

Presidential Decree 772 (PD 772) effected by former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1975 made prosecuting “squatting and other criminal acts” relatively easy. Squatting under PD 772 was clearly a criminal undertaking as Section 1 of the decree states…

Any person who, with the use of force, intimidation or threat, or taking advantage of the absence or tolerance of the landowner, succeeds in occupying or possessing the property of the latter against his will for residential commercial or any other purposes, shall be punished by an imprisonment ranging from six months to one year or a fine of not less than one thousand nor more than five thousand pesos at the discretion of the court, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

And so, under Marcos’s administration, thousands of squatters were successfully evicted from land they illegally inhabited and jailed for their offense.

Unfortunately PD 772 was repealed when Republic Act No. 8368, the “Anti-Squatting Law Repeal Act of 1997″ took effect. RA 8368 also authorised dismissal of all pending cases that drew upon the provisions of the now repealed PD 772. It also directed criminal cases against squatters to defer to the broader “Comprehensive and Continuing Urban Development Program” described by Republic Act 7279, which stipulated sanctions that are applicable only to “professional squatters” which are defined to be…

[...] individuals or groups who occupy lands without the express consent of the landowner and who have sufficient income for legitimate housing. The term shall also apply to persons who have previously been awarded homelots or housing units by the Government but who sold, leased or transferred the same to settle illegally in the same place or in another urban area, and non-bona fide occupants and intruders of lands reserved for socialized housing.

RA 7279 however explicitly excludes from the definition “individuals or groups who simply rent land and housing from professional squatters or squatting syndicates.” These laws, in effect, make the process of removing squatters from one’s property a long and convoluted one.

Well, we sow what we reap, don’t we?

Metro Manila is now a pigsty of a city. Squatters routinely deposit their household sewage into the Pearl of the Orient’s once picturesque esteros. The illegal structures they erect, have long been seen as the single biggest urban blight that contributes significantly to the problem of flooding in the Philippines’ wretched capital. Add to that too all the other illegally-erected structures of businesses backed by local politicians, such as the fish pens that proliferate all over Laguna de Bay. The aroma of raw sewage that engulfs the country’s premier metropolis is unmistakable during the wet season. And during the dry season, the thought of open sewers and where the thick ubiquitous clouds of dust that hang over the city 24 hours a day comes from is enough to discourage anyone from eating ice cream on a cone outdoors.

But because Bianca Gonzalez is a celebrity and because the starstruck society in which she makes her living expects its celebrities to be a “compassionate” bunch, Gonzalez’s tweet made waves. On the venerable pages of that exemplar of journalistic integrity Remate, can now be found the collective expression of indignation of the Filipino underclass

“Kailangan maunawaan ni Bianca ang tunay na ugat ang urban poverty at squatting problem sa bansa. Ito ay isang social responsibility ni Bianca at ng iba pang journalist na tagapag-timon ng public opinion sa bansa,” ani [Gloria Arellano, KADAMAY national chairperson].

Inaasahan ng grupo na pagtatanong lamang ang naging komento ni Bianca. Nakahanda umanong maglinaw ang KADAMAY at sagutin kung talagang bini-baby ng gubyerno ang mga informal settler.

“Pam-bibaby bang maituturing ang libu-libong maralitang pamilyang na itinaboy ng gubyernong Aquino sa panahon ng kanyang panunungkulan at pagdanas nila ng pandarahas ng estado mula sa sapilitang paggiba ng kanilang tahanan, pagkakakulong, pagsasampa ng gawa-gawang kaso hanggang at pagmamaslang sa 13 maralitang tumututol sa demolisyon?” tanong ni Arellano.

Translating the above to the lingua franca of the 21st Century…

“Bianca needs to understand the real roots of urban poverty and the country’s squatting problem. This is a social responsibility of hers and other journalists who shape public opinion.” says Gloria Arellano, KADAMAY national chairperson.

The KADAMAY group (an acronym for the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap or Confederation for Solidarity Among the Impoverished) hopes that Bianca merely tables a rhetorical question. The KADAMAY group is ready to clarify whether the government is indeed coddling the informal settler community.

“Can we even regard as ‘babying’ the state’s violent demolition of homes, the imprisonment and filing of cases against the 13 who protested this demolition which transpired under the government of President Aquino?” asks Arellano.

Gonzalez has since reportedly expressed to Vencer Crisostomo (chairperson of leftist militant group Anakbayan) her intention to initiate talks with the aggrieved parties.

[Photo courtesy AllStarPics.net.]

benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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757 Comments

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  • eleo says:

    ..WHY THE GOVT DOES LITTLE ABOUT SQUATTER PROBLEMS…or WHY THERE ARE SO MANY PEDICABS IN OUR HIGHWAY……VOTES, VOTES, VOTES, VOTES…

  • Pepe Cabrera says:

    Wait …baka nalilimutan natin na mga tao ang pinag uusapan natin. Squatters are human beings, we must start solving the problem to its source. Hindi matatapos ang problema. “under Marcos’s administration, thousands of squatters were successfully evicted from land they illegally inhabited and jailed for their offense.” That sounds so horrible to me. “Evicted”, “Jailed”, instead of helping them? Bakit ba pinagaganda natin ang image ng mga Marcoses dito?

    • chad says:

      So what do you suggest we should do? Start how and we will follow.

      • noel says:

        go back to your provinces and do the hard work. wag tayong masanay sa madaling pagkakakitaan…magbanat ng buto at mamuhay ng disente sa lupang pinanggalingan.

      • Cring says:

        Clearly, the law during Marcos’ administration should be re-implemented. But how do we start this? and who will? I will also follow the new leader.

    • joeld says:

      No it is not horrible, you violated the law, you pay the consequence. This way of thinking should be brought back to the fullest, even as minor as littering.

      Filipinos need to be disciplined if they cannot do it for themselves. Sadly, the EDSA revolution virtually stepped on discipline and spat on it’s face. Now look where it got us, ultimo balat ng kendi, itatapon pa sa kalye, simpleng no jaywalking, hindi masunod, how much more heavier violations are being done everyday just because the filipinos lost their self discipline.

    • joey says:

      An academic journal article written by Gavin Shatkin (Planning to Forget: Informal Settlements as ‘Forgotten Places’ in Globalising Metro Manila), a professor of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan explains how Marcos was able to evict 400,000 of informal settlers in Metro Manila during Martial Law. In a gist, Marcos proclaimed them as enemies of the state and urban insurgents and even inciting them for several malicious incidents (although of course they weren’t the culprits). He even accused them of plotting to over throw his government.

      People in general should be more critical before forming opinions. Informal settlers are not all illegal squatters as we are made to believe. Most of these informal settlers pay a form of rent to the owner of the house, whether it is located near an estero or underneath the train line. To be technical this form of payment gives them a right to stay where they are. There is so much to say about the problems and issues on urban informal settlers. but i think, the government should have a concrete plan on solving these issues. tao rin sila and to their point of view they have the right to remain where they are as they pay rent.

    • juan de la cruz says:

      21 years nakinabang ang sqatters sa aming lupa tapos nagbigay pa kami ng tig 10T sa bawat pamilya na umalis. Ayaw pa umalis hanggang di nabibigay ung pera. Pagkatapos malaman naming ung isa squatter nagtrabaho sa customs may 3 storey na 3 door commercial apartment. Katamaran at kagahaman ng pinoy! Kung makakalamang ka gagawin mo. Habang kami kakaalis lang naming sa inuupahan naming dahil tinaasahan na kami ng renta mula 7T to 10T at din a naming kaya mangupahan. Namatay ang tatay naming at umutang ng konti para makalikom ng konting halaga para makapagpatayo ng maliit na bahay para sa aming matagal na minana na lupa.

    • Jorge says:

      Yes, in Marcos time, being a squatter is not an excuse just because they are poor, numerous projects are built including BLISS housing and Bagong Lipunan Condominuims(BLC)

    • ricardo says:

      wag na rin natin ikulong ang mga magnanakaw at snatcher sapagkat sila ay human beings din at sila ay biktima din lang naman ng kahirapan at kailangang may maipakain sa kanilang pamilya kung kaya nagnanakaw….isali na rin ang mga carnapper,akyat bahay,illigal recruiter atbp.dahil naghahanap buhay lang naman sila at biktima lang ng karalitaan.

      • Miyamot says:

        Very well said. Ang mga taxpayers ba ay walang karapatang magreklamo… Eh pera naming pinaghirapan ang ginagamit ng gobyero para ipang subsidize sa pangangailangan ng mga squatters na yan…. Para sa isang regular employee na buwan buwan kinakaltasan ng 8k para sa tax, hindi kaaya-aya ito. Mas marami pa nga silang benipisyo na nakukuha compared sa mga nagtratrabaho ng marangal para itaguyod ang aming mga pamilya.

  • chad says:

    Investment yan mga squatter na yan ng mga land grabbing corporation at ng gobyerno, and also politician, jan sila bumibili ng boto. At yang mga squatter na yan, karamihan may ksalanan bat hnd umaangat ang pinas, ginagawang negosyo ng gobyeeno at mga nsa gobyerno lahat. Malaking pera maeron jan, lalo na sa mga drug lords at wet3ng lords.

  • Richard Joson says:

    Shes 100% right! why do we pay real estate tax if the government dont do anything about squatting. bayad ka na may squatter ka pa! Land owners should have the right to shoot this squatters para mawala. mayababng pa mga yan parang utang na loob mo pa na patirahin sila sa lupa na binabayaran mo ng tax!

    • SILVER I. DELA CRUZ says:

      She is right, in our subdivision in Dasmariñas, Cavite squatters are like mushrooms they just keep on growing as the day passed bv. These squatters creates all the irregularities from electrical jumper to encroachment of properties. Our government is doing nothing even our local executives did not lift their fingers to address the issue.

  • Dan says:

    Walang masyadong trabaho sa kanayunan. Magulo sa kanayunan dahil sa “war on the countrysides” na inilunsad ng mga rebelde, pwera pa yong sa bandang Kamindanawan. Mga kapitalista at mga pulitiko lang halos ang nananagana sa mga kanayunan. Nasa mga siyudad ang maraming trabaho o pagkakakitaan. Magtinda-tinda ka lang o mag parking attendant, pwede nang mabuhay. Nasa mga siyudad din ang mga de-kalidad na paaralan na bakasakaling ikaasenso ng mga anak. Kung kukuha naman ng housing loan, para mo lang ipinagtrabaho ang mga nagpapautang. Pag di mo pa nabayaran, kahit nakapaghulog ka na ng malaki, baka di rin mapasayo. Ano pa? Maraming pulitiko sa mga siyudad ang nadadagdagan ng mass-base. Ganundin ang mga mahilig magpa-rally. Kaya yon dumami, at pati mga kaakibat na problema ng basura at peace & order. Pero paaano naman ang mga napeperhuwesyo. Mahirap din ako pero ang tanong, kung ayaw nating inaaapi ang mga mahihirap, paaano naman kung ang mga mahihirap na ang nang-aapi dahil lamang sa overzealous na “compassion” ng ilang mga maiimpluwensyang sektor? Ikaw kaya ang magkaroon ng lupa, at agawin sa ‘yo ng iba. At ikaw pa na nagbabayad ng tamang buwis ang pag-initan at sasabihing walang puso. Masakit yon ah.

  • BillyRay says:

    It simply explains that the government tolerates this wrong doing because they need there votes during election.

  • Anna says:

    Compassionate Point of view:
    Yes, squatters are human beings too, which they try to live within their means, minimum wage is not enough to sustain comfortable living, In Manila, you need at least 30k to sustain a family of with 2 kids, But who gives 30k? usually its 10k to 13k the most for ordinary rank and file. So, it’s either you find residence in the outskirts of the metropolis and far from where jobs are available or you squat somewhere cheap (rent from illigal landlords who gets away with it), and it is usually the latter.

    Economic point of view:
    Hoping that they (squatters) will not squat on private property and let legitimate land owners have to pay for their eviction and or allowances, its not fair cause the owners had pay for that including taxes and etc.
    and hopefully, they’ll just apply for a housing project or squat on government owned lots instead.
    and maybe couples who doesn’t have the means MUST NOT / TRY NOT to create a human being to add to their burden. (it is usually the “maralita” that has 4 kids and up and complain that they don’t have food to put on the table for them).
    and all must try to remember: We are responsible for your our lives. It’s our Job. Anybody has the right to their opinion, and you have every right to ignore any comment. No need to be self righteous. If you want to prove anything, eh di subukan mong tumulong muna bago mo ibuka ang iyong bibig at sabihin sino ang mali.

  • Kaykay says:

    I have to agree with Bianca. The only people I feel sorry for in this situation are the children of the squatters and the landowners. There needs to be a more efficient way to evict squatters. Some questions that need to be asked during the time Presidential Decree 772 (PD 772) was in effect are, “Did poverty decrease?”, “Did these squatters finally realize they need to work and obtain a living space legally?”. If the answers are “YES”, the government should re-enact this law. And if these same questions are asked for Republic Act No. 8368, the “Anti-Squatting Law Repeal Act of 1997″ and the answers are “NO”, then I repeat, PD 772 should be re-enacted. However, along with this, the minimum wage should be increased. No single, minor change can fix this major problem. With RA 8368, I feel as though the government is okay with the squatters living the way they do – poor quality homes, horrible health standards. Now, I can sit here and type all day but that won’t change anything. Time to get off my ass and do something about it. The same goes for you politicians. Those of us who are dealing with squatters can’t do anything unless stricter laws are implemented!

  • Eduardo B. Lledo says:

    Nakikiramay ako sa mga problema ng mga maralita sa bansang Pilipinas. Ngunit kailangan din naman tulungan nila ang kanilang mga sarili at magsikap. Lalo sa pagkontrol ng ating lumolobong papolasyon.
    The ever increasing population is one of the culprit in most underdeveloped or shall we say developing country like the Philippines.
    Check the population of those highly developed or advanced countries, how is their population?
    Kaya huwag na tayong mapagsisi, tignan nating mabuti kung anong Kultura mayroon tayo!!!

  • Luvian says:

    The upper class keeps all the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all the work. The poor are there… just to scare the shit out of the middle class.

  • Jess Gregorio says:

    Squatting is a social problem. Development plans must be decentralized. Give rural areas a chance to develop their own industry. Create their own sustainable livelihood. Have their own micro grid power generation. See a solution on the link below:

    http://jcgregsolutions.weebly.com/1/post/2013/07/when-does-waste-become-a-tool-for-nation-building.html

  • ROWENA REYES says:

    BIANCA, LUCKY YOU, MAY PAG-UUMPISAHAN KA…KUNG IPANGANAK KANG MULI AT ILAGAY KA SA SITWASYON NILANG MGA TAGA SQUATTERS, GUSTO KITANG MAKITANG MULI AT MARINIG ANG MGA SALITANG IYONG BINITAWAN PATUNGKOL SA KANILA, NA WALANG MGA PANG-UMPISA…

    • rockler says:

      another classic “rich vs poor” argument. i’m sick of tired of such. i came from a poor family and worked my ass off to get to where i am.

  • tamara says:

    Bakit nga ba bine-baby ang mga informal settlers?

    bianca gonzalezzzz, palibhasa maganda ang presinto mo tuwing eleksyon hindi bukas ang mata mo sa totoong purpose ng mga informal settlers na nagkalat sa metro manila.

    for example:
    bakit andaming squatter along commonwealth avenue to think na tanaw na tanaw sila ng congress?

    botante sila ng mga friends mong pulitiko.
    kaya mo ba silang pagsalitaan ng nasa isip mo ngayon?

    ang ipakita mo e kung kaya mong bumangga sa mga pulitiko at im sure hindi mo gagawin yan dahil isa ka ring ipokrita na puro positive lang ang iniisip sa buhay.

    “Life on the streets … does seem to be normal, but there’s this underlying tension about what comes next.

  • stahlnacht says:

    There are times when I’d like nothing more than to lob a molotov cocktail or two at those shanties and watch their world burn down around them. All that’s stopping me is my conscience and the potential to gain a criminal record.

  • Pheene says:

    we really have a serious social problem.some bloggers here are torn between reality and compassion for the under privileged. can’t you see most of these squatters are in the prime lands or choice lots, especially in quezon city. whereas the law abiding citizens who strived to own their house and lot found themselves in the outskirts of the city. tama na yung senseless awa or paawa effect, paano naman ang mga masunurin sa batas?

    • hulaboy says:

      yeah, i agree. the “sentimental” emotions of the Filipino will regress progress. but, then again that’s a character trait that is hard to get rid of. this is a global issue and finding solutions can be a herculean task for the local government. China, HK and Singapore created horizontal cities to house their under-privileged citizens. a filipino architect, Jun Palafox, planned something identical for Metro Manila. if funds can be gathered ( i don’t know where from ) it could be a reality. BLISS was a project of Imelda at one point, but there were so much anomalies involved that it died just like that. maybe they can use the Pork Barrel to fund such project. there’s a lot of possibilities and ideas to solve this issue, but it will take a brilliant mind to implement it.

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