Rampant ‘landgrabbing’ in QC

I’m wondering why government lands, supposedly meant for the benefit of the majority, have been sold to private business interests instead of being secured for the common good. President Manuel Luis Quezon established Quezon City to serve the needs of a wider community. It was he who, one morning, went to the house of Alejandro Roces Sr. to share his vision of the housing projects that now dot Quezon City.

Studying architecture in the University of the Philippines in the 1970s and driving by the raw lands surrounding the Quezon Memorial Circle, it was so obvious that government lands were meant for the greater good. But then North Edsa was sold to Henry Sy’s group. Then Lucio Tan got the land at the corner of Edsa and Quezon Avenue for its Centris Complex.

Early this year, Quezon City Hall, with commerce in mind, attempted a takeover of the Manila Seedling Bank, (where we had been shopping for our planting needs and appreciating its garden shows). Now even the parking area and grounds of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) are being sold to the Henry Sy group, again. (To Imelda Marcos’ credit, it was she who built the NKTI and put up the Manila Seedling Bank for the people). It’s amazing how government functionaries and politicians can be so greedy to twist noble, original public goals for private gains.

If indigenous peoples think they are the only victims of landgrabbing, we in the city can share with them some of our experiences.

I have seen the original Quezon City master plan prepared during the Commonwealth era by a combination of American and Filipino consultants. I was impressed with the green spaces lining the creeks and rivers, as well as with the open spaces and parks. But where are they now? What little government land is left is being handed over to the captains of profit.

How could the selling of government lands for the profit of private entities serve the common good? Worse, these entities treat ordinary people like criminals instead of valued customers, with their stupid security procedures!

I grew up being treated well and believing in the value of a person. I am older now and have no time to play  moro-moro,  kunwa-kunwari  security with security personnel and their clueless owners.  All their so-called security procedures idiotize Filipinos; they make people stupid, brainwashing them to think so little of themselves.

Business tycoons have been talking of inclusive development. I have this to say: Their exclusive development has been detrimental to the moral psyche of Filipinos. Until such time they can come up with a truly inclusive model of development, we will continue to go down the path of pretending—and wasting huge security outlays. Until such time, we cannot create a true community.

Is it any wonder that there is a culture of impunity? It starts when inclusive growth is twisted to become exclusive growth for a very few.

—JACQUELINE CANCIO VEGA, jacqueline_cancio_vega@


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Tags: landgrabbing , letters to the editor , opinion , Quezon City

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