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Informal settlers on ‘center island’

/ 12:20 AM June 10, 2016

Passing through Agham Road in Diliman, Quezon City, weeks ago,  I nearly hit a child running around like the road was his own playground. Luckily, I was driving only 20 kilometers per hour. I was able to quickly step on the brakes and stopped my car just inches from bumping the poor child. Then some other children on the road pulled him back to the “center island” where his parents merely looked. Though it clearly was not my fault even if some injury to the child resulted from that, I was sure I’d be the one haled to the prosecutor’s office for reckless imprudence no matter what.

After squatters—pardon me, “informal settlers”—were paid and asked politely to remove their structures from esteros to stop the flooding due to the clogging of our waterways, they simply relocated to the center islands! When asked what the Department of Social Welfare and Development was doing about it, Secretary “Dinky” Soliman said, “Walang batas ang nagsasabing kasalanan ang tumira sa center island (No law says it is a sin to live on the center island).” That has emboldened them to defy all efforts to have them moved somewhere else safe.

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But come to think of it, Soliman was correct.  It is not a “sin.” There is absolutely nothing in the “Ten Commandments” that says, “Thou shalt not set up dwellings in the middle of the street.” Neither is there anything in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not urinate in public,” or “Thou shalt not make a fool of thyself when opening thy mouth to speak.”

Well, dear Madame Secretary, how about just plain old-fashioned common sense? Please take back what you said before President-elect Rodrigo Duterte shows you how to put sanity back into the mess you have single-handedly created in our streets.

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—MELISSA SY QUIATAN, [email protected]

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TAGS: center island, Dinky Soliman, DSWD, Informal settlers, squatters
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