Quantcast

As I See It

Prosquatter laws leading to urban decay

By

As in the poem, my heart leapt up when I beheld in Thursday’s Inquirer a report that the Metro Manila Development Authority will conduct a census of squatters to prepare for their relocation. At last, I thought, we will get back our family property that has been squatted upon for decades. But, reading further, I learned that only squatters along waterways will be the subject of the census and relocation. What about the private properties, especially in Quezon City, on which the city government is collecting additional real-estate taxes, allegedly to be used for squatter housing? Not a single hollow block for the alleged squatter housing has been put in place, and the terms of office of the councilors who passed the additional realty tax as well as the mayor who implements it are to end in one month.

Much of Metro Manila is decaying due to the squatter colonies that local government units are tolerating because they are vote-rich areas.

In fact, many of those squatters were brought in by these local officials when they were candidates, to vote for them. And these same squatters are the ones who keep them in office during every election.

Lot owners cannot develop their properties because of the squatters. It is ironic that many lot owners are themselves homeless and are renting rooms because squatters have taken over, and are profiting from, their properties. It is fallacious to think that all squatters are poor. Many of them are rich opportunists.

Look at the squatter colonies: There are stores, shops, and other businesses, as well as two-to four-story concrete houses built on lots that were stolen from their owners. Yet the squatters do not pay real estate and business taxes, have no business permits, and most likely do not pay income taxes, too. It is the lot owners who pay the real estate taxes for the lots being used by other people. The Quezon City government is quick to sell at public auction those lots whose registered owners are delinquent in the payment of realty taxes. The winning bidders are usually syndicates close to City Hall.

It is the responsibility of the government to protect private property in exchange for the taxes the owners pay. But the LGUs do not do that. To be fair, the LGUs should suspend the collection of real estate taxes on lots squatted on until they have relocated the squatters. When will they start doing this?

If you go to City Hall to seek police help to stop squatters from building their shanties on your lot, officials will tell you to get a court order. Yet, it is the duty of the police to prevent a crime that is in the process of being committed. When a policeman sees a person being held up, it is his duty to arrest the holdup man. When he sees thieves taking away appliances from a house, it is his duty to arrest those criminals even without a court order. It is the same thing with squatters. They are thieves and robbers stealing somebody else’s property.

If you file an ejection case in court, the wheels of justice grind so slowly that by the time the court issues a decision, the squatter colony would be firmly established. And even if you win the case, the sheriff and police will not enforce it if you don’t pay them extra.

And the courts are so slow and the legal process so expensive that many property owners cannot afford the costs. On the other hand, the squatter associations have in-house lawyers and enforcers. The odds are stacked against the law-abiding property owner.

The fact that one is poor is no excuse to steal. Even if a person is poor, it is a crime to hold up a fellow man or rob someone else’s house; that person is still guilty of theft and robbery. Squatting is no different. A squatter is guilty of theft.

But the bleeding hearts in Congress have decriminalized squatting. And the Urban Development and Housing Act (Udha), better known as the Lina Law, piles all the benefits in favor of squatters. As I see it, the Udha is class legislation because it favors one class of citizens—the squatters—at the expense of the law-abiding, tax-paying property owners. It should be repealed. Likewise, the law decriminalizing squatting should be repealed.

Because of these laws, squatter colonies have mushroomed everywhere like bad weeds, leading to the decay of many urban areas.

The contagion is still spreading, with the government unable, or unwilling, to stop it because squatters are voters. Many flying voters are also squatters, as are many vote-sellers.

All over the urban areas, we see these tall condominium buildings for the rich. What about the poor? Why is there no in-city housing for them?

The reason squatters resist relocation is that they are thrown to places far from their means of livelihood. The pittance they earn is spent for transportation. So they go back to squatting in the cities.

Can’t the government require the land developers that for every 100 units for rich customers, they provide 10 low-cost housing units for the poor? Build medium-rise housing, at break-even prices for the squatters, near the tall gleaming condominiums.

Then the house help of the condo owners can come from these medium-rise housing units. The owners of the condo units—which are very small—will save money if their house help are “living out.” And the house help will save the money they will otherwise use for transportation because they can just walk to their jobs.

Vice President Jejomar Binay is the housing and antisquatting czar. But he is more concerned about working for his election to the presidency in 2016 that he has forgotten his responsibilities. Doesn’t he realize that he will get more votes if he is able to provide housing for squatters and return the lots squatted on to their owners?


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=53193

Tags: Metro Manila Development Authority , Poverty , Squatter Colonies , Squtters , Urban Decay

  • Bien Carcellar

    justice should be blind whether rich or poor.repeal that stupid Lina Law

  • Bien Carcellar

    kung walang manglilimos,walang pulubi.Pairalin mo ang batas magsusumikap yang mga yan,

  • clanwolf

    Oo nga. Kaya advice ko sa mga may ari ng lupa na may squatter, mag hire kayo ng arsonista at sunugin. Ready kayo magbakod tapos ng sunog at lagyan ng guwadiya na may uniporme at baril. Samahan niyo pa ng malaking pader na may barbwire at kuryente. Garapalan na kasi. Ang squatter, puwersa lang ang katapat. Hindi mo mapapaalis iyan sa legal legal.

    • rickysgreyes

      Unfortunately you are correct. However, not everyone has the conscience, or lack of it, to use this option.

  • rickysgreyes

    I agree with comment below that Erap has made San Juan really nice by dealing with squatters or removing them. They (Estradas) have not lost political capital due to this. Hope Erap can do the same for Intramuros, Metro Manila’s tourist gem, which is teeming with squatters. I work in international relations and deal a lot with foreigners. When they are Metro Manila, they only want to do 3 things, ride a jeepney, shop at Greenhills and go to Intramuros. I’m always hesitant to tell them how to go to Intramuros Kasi dami squatter, Baka ma hold up.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Korea ferry captain defends actions, bodies seen in ship
  • Traffic starts to build up at toll plazas on Black Saturday
  • Flash floods hit 9 Tagum villages
  • No tsunami to hit PH after 6.9 quake jolts Solomon Islands–Phivolcs
  • Search resumes for bodies in Everest avalanche
  • Sports

  • Hamilton takes pole at Chinese Grand Prix
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood joining Jabari Parker in NBA draft
  • Phelps entered in 3 events at comeback meet
  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors
  • Motivated LeBron James preps for postseason
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • Fiat-Chrysler to produce iconic Jeep in China from 2015
  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • We treasure our Sierra Madre
  • OFW from UAE tests negative for MERS-Cov–health chief
  • Multicultural flock marks Good Friday in San Francisco
  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Marketplace