• The anti-squatter syndrome

    48
    Katrina Stuart Santiago

    Katrina Stuart Santiago

    The thing with Pinoy social media, and I mean Facebook and Twitter, is that it’s an echo chamber. You know exactly what the bandwagon is like here, and if you think like the majority, it’s easy to give your followers your two pesos’ worth in 140 characters. You can then revel in the ego boost of retweets and shares and likes.

    To some extent, this is all pretty petty and harmless. Half the time it’s merely kampihan
    about who or what we like on TV or in the movies. Usually, it reveals an overriding taste that cuts across the social classes in Pinoy social media, and it’s an interesting display of the kind of popular culture audience there is at any given time.

    Sometimes though, Pinoy social media and its celebrities decide to tackle the more difficult issues of the day. There is of course no way of doing that in 140 characters, without falling into the trap of simplistic analysis made even more simple by the realization that hey look! Pinoy social media agrees with you!

    Early this month the demolition of the community in Sitio San Roque, North Triangle, brought out the fangs. There is apparently nothing like poverty and informal settlements to bring out the class character of Pinoy social media, and that is not to speak about the middle class and the rich who are there. Instead it’s to speak of the kind of ideology that cuts across social classes, the kind of thinking that trends the way Daniel Padilla, or Vice Ganda, would, the kind of mainstream bandwagon assessment of the more critical issues of our time.

    That is, we talk about poverty, and what Pinoy social media becomes is matapobre.

    The questions are insensitive to begin with, because they are merely rhetorical: Why are they being given P18,000 so that they may relocate, when they don’t even own the land their houses stand on? Why are the poor being babied? Why am I not cared for by my government, too?

    Exactly within the 140-character-limit.

    But of course these questions only reveal a particular kind of selfishness, a greed (maybe?), that is in the mere articulation of these questions. There is also just an ignorance about these informal settlements and the communities that are created through them, why they persist, how they will persist, what it says about us that we end up being matapobre the moment this persistent issue makes it to the news once again.

    The story of informal settlements persists because government, and we, fail to do something about it. Obviously the iron hand of demolition is not—and can never be—the answer.

    The truth is this: the people who live in these communities are the lifeblood of any city’s underground economy. They are your contractual workers: the construction worker whose hands built that building you call office, the factory worker who allows you to have your Coke every day, the janitor or janitress in your school. They are the jeep and bus and MRT drivers, the ones who make sure you get to work, the tindera who sells you your yosi, the salesgirl at the mall who helps you choose a pair of shoes.

    They are the jobless too, certainly, and that is why a contractual worker can be easily replaced by the next person— if not by his own neighbor in the informal settlement. You don’t know you’re a mere cog in the wheel until you feel like you are the most replaceable member of that machine.

    Yes, there will be those who are jobless as a matter of being lazy, as a matter of wanting to drink their poverty away, never mind that this will mean spending the last of whatever money they have. But of course these people exist in every social class, where we get drunk and splurge our money on getting wasted. We don’t get sloshed as a matter of hunger and poverty though, as we do for (a) that broken heart (b) this Friday night (c) one celebration or other, and (d) all of the above. We later on say: what a waste of money! But that’s because drinking is not the only thing we have going for us, that’s because when we get drunk it isn’t a matter of hopelessness or hunger, it isn’t a matter of escaping a lot in life that we cannot get out of, a poverty we are mired in.

    The difference is so stark one would need to be blind not to see it.

    Which sounds much better than ignorant, doesn’t it? Though certainly the two work hand-in-hand in making us believe that we are correct to criticize these informal settlers for being what they are. After all, blindness allows us to refuse that these people exist, we only see what we believe. Ignorance is what we fall back on the moment we assert that these squatters have no right to resist demolition because they shouldn’t be there to begin with anyway.

    But where would they be otherwise? They would be part of the rural impoverished, instead of the urban poor. They would be statistics for a province, instead of contractual and informal workers in the city.

    They would be voters for the local government anywhere they are. Which is to say that they have official addresses that are based on that informal settlement’s own address.

    Which is to say they are registered with the barangay, if not the city hall; more often than not they pay some form of tax or another, official and otherwise. In many instances informal settlers have papers that prove they are in fact official residents of the spaces they’ve come to call home.

    What we like to forget about these informal settlers is that they are not just the workers who build our cities, they aren’t just the workers who keep these cities alive, they are also and ultimately citizens. They are citizens who vote, and who provide our local officials with what might be called their bailiwicks come election season.

    Were my existence made official by the local government itself, why would I imagine myself to have less rights than the next person? Why would I think myself an illegal citizen of this city?

    But mainstream thought via Pinoy social media refuses to even arrive at these more difficult questions when it deals with the issue of informal settlements. It conveniently forgets to consider the depth and scope of the creation of any community at all, and the politics that informs and allows their existence all these years. It refuses to acknowledge the roles that the members of these communities play in the cities we have grown up in.

    One can only be again reminded about how, while blindness keeps us from seeing, ignorance is just the refusal to understand.

    Share.
    loading...
    Loading...

    Please follow our commenting guidelines.

    48 Comments

    1. just want to quote Macliing Dulag “How can you own something that will outlive you?”

    2. This article is going nowhere. I believe our Government is on the right track in putting things in order in the city. What they are trying to do is actually giving the squatters a proper and safe shelter. It’s just that for us human beings it is hard for us to accept CHANGE. Just imagine most of us already have a proper home to come home to at the end of the day, ain’t that worthy? Sabi nga nila, Filipinos are survivors, I’m pretty sure it’s just a matter of time before all these illegal settlers can adjust into their new homes. Let’s just wait and see. Siguro magandang tanungin ung mga nakalipat na sa mga kanikanilang sariling bahay sa probinsya kung ano na nangyari sa kanila.

      Basta ako, naniniwala akong ung maayos lang ang gustong mangyari ng Administrasyong Aquino para sa mahihirap. Umpisa lang to sa mga hakbang na ginagawa nila para pagdating ng panahon maging pantay pantay na ang status nating mga pilipino gaya ng sa ibang bansa. Hindi masama amg mangarap di ba? Magkakalahi tayo kaya sana wala nalang turuan sa kung sino ang tama at mali. Magtrabaho at magsumikap nalang tayo at sumunod sa batas pero syempre bantayan din natin ang ating karapatan bilang tao pero sa tama lang tayo pwede?

      Tayo ang apektado ngayon pero pagdating ng panahon mas mainhawa naman ang susunod na henerasyon kaya tiis tiis lang pag may time =)

    3. I wonder, bakit galit na galit ang mga tao sa mga informal settlers eh yung gobyerno nga na nagpapademolish sa mga bahay ng mga settlers na ito ay nagnanakaw ng pera ng bayan?

      Asan na ang 6.6% GDP growth? Nasaan na ang tiger economy? Nasaan na ang higher credit ratings natin? Hindi ba napakaipokrito na sabihin na gumaganda na ang ekonomiya ng bansa habang parami ng parami ang demolisyon?

      Palibhasa ang gusto ng gobyerno, mga negosyante, at mga middle-class-squatter-haters ay magtayo ng maraming maraming malls…maraming maraming condominiums… maraming maraming buildings… ayan ang itatayo sa mga lupang kinatirikan ng bahay ng mga settlers na ito para gumawa ng negosyo imbis na magbigay ng serbisyong panlipunan para sa mamamayan.

      Nakakalungkot, nakakaawang pag-iisip ito ng mga panggitnang uri at karamihan ng mga Pilipino.

    4. Annie Kimseng on

      Squatting on someone else’s property is illegal, it is trespassing, and since the settlers do not own the place, they tend to dirty the place and not care for it. Why are we debating on the issue? They are informal settlers, not legal owners; they force their presence on the owners, without invitation, usurping the space owned by somebody else.

      This type of mentality has evolved into a “culture” that’s so unreasonable, yet has been perpetuated, thus becoming “acceptable” to the past 2 generations.

      Ages ago, there were tenement housing projects but were aborted so soon. If these were managed properly, we would not be having this monster that we created. The Bliss projects were actually very successful in easing the housing problem then.
      We should build and plan for more of these projects.

      Time to undo this “victim” syndrome! EDUCATE, and not condone, not legalize, and not glamourize the issue. Thank you!

    5. Great article. The problem of illegal settlers is connected to the bigger issue in our country. Why do you think people from the rural areas are moving to the Metro? Maybe it is because of the unequal growth between the urban and rural areas in the philippines.

      Farmers have no land of their own, earning a little share from the hacienderos/ plantation owners that they are serving. To make matter worse, most of the crops that they are planting are cash crops instead of rice, which as we all know is the staple food here. Instead of planting food, they plant crops that are ‘exportable’

      Then there is the mining issue which is notorious for displacing our IP’s from their ancestral domains. Not only that, the waste that they produce are sometimes mismanaged thus poisoning the river and the seas, thus killing the livelihood of the people living in the surrounding area.

      So what’s the better option for them? Die in hunger in the province or try their luck in the metro, even if they live on a danger zone?

      If we want to stop them from moving here, we need to start developing the provinces. We need a land reform that is genuine and not something that has a lot of loopholes. By utilizing the skills of our engineers, we should strive to form industries that fosters inclusive growth with the people that would be affected instead of these so called ‘industries’ that only cares about profit etc.

      • This is the ultimate solution. You are absolutely right.

        Jobs need to be created in other areas of the country. By developing other cities in other provinces, you create more jobs, development, and stops the overgrowth in the NCR. Other cities must be industrialized.

        When cities outside of the NCR develop, the gov’t should educate the people about how it would be better to move to these new cities instead of manila. For instance, how often do you hear someone say they studied nursing but are not able to work as nurses because there are no nursing jobs left in manila? Build more hospitals in other cities outside of metro manila!

        Solves two huge problems: it stops the over population of Metro Manila and the surrounding areas (and hopefully the squatting problems), and it gives the other provinces a chance to develop. Which is over all for the greater good of the entire country.

        Right now there is a misconception that the only way to get out of poverty is to go to Manila. Instead, they end up living in horrible conditions in shanty towns.

        In time, when the whole country is industrialized, social programs can be developed to help the poor (this would require more taxes). Subsidized housing for the poor to get them out of shanty towns in manila where their children live in horrible conditions. Health care can come to place too. As as result crime rates can decrease. A whole list of changes can occur.

        This all need to start from the government. To industrialize other cities and educate the people. Give the people more options than Metro Manila to have a better life. It seems that this government is moving in the right direction.

    6. I’m glad you remind us that social media serves to reify the perspectives of only a few socioeconomic classes–those who have access to it. Although, I’m not sure I agree with the perspective that the poor are a communal “problem” to be “solved” by these classes–even if taken in a seemingly positive and integrative disposition. I think that point would only continue to separate and mute an already largely voiceless community in these online forums.

    7. You have no idea how difficult for land owners tohave those makeshift houses removed. I’ve through allot, several barangay sessions and police force to have them leave our property. Those squatters are a nuisance and time-consuming creatures. They will even take everything you put in place in your land including the steelbars used for the wall and fence. There is no good in them.

    8. I don’t support informal settlers/squatters/whatever-you-want-to-call-them. What they do is essentially land grabbing. Yet, in the over-all scheme of things here in the Metro, they do serve a purpose. The author is right it most respects on how they actually serve the underground economy of this country, and indirectly also fosters the main economy as well. Which is why some of them actually can afford some conveniences in life. To just call all of them plain lazy would be stereotyping.

      What the article fails to point out, and what the comments also fail to mention, is that squatting is a symptom of a much bigger problem in our society. It is a problem that has been in this country since the Spaniards made us a colony. It is a problem that has driven many of our fellow citizens from an impoverished country side, only to become the impoverished in the cities. It is a problem that can’t be solved by the government alone. A collective action by the citizens need to be taken to address this problem. An action that says it isn’t okay that a few families control vast tracks of land and its resources while the rest of us squabble over what remains. An action that says big corporations have no right to pass on the taxes they owe the government, and by extension the people of this nation, on to their subscribers/customers. An action that says that the government officials that we as citizens supposedly put into place shouldn’t take advantage of the positions that they are in to advance their own state in life.

    9. Maidagdag ko lang, iba talaga kapag lubog ka sa community, kapag kaya mong ilagay ang sarili mo sa sitwasyon nila. Kapag nakakasalamuha mo sila, kapag nakakausap mo sila. Alam mong pagod na pagod sila sa kakatrabaho pero kulang pa rin sa pagkain at simpleng pangangailangan. Hindi ka basta-basta magbibitaw ng mga salita laban sa kanila, hindi mo sila ituturing na peste, eye sore o salot. Makikita mo kung gaano sila kahalaga sa buhay mo, kung paano connected ang buhay nyo sa isang lipunan. Nakikita mo ang sitwasyon sa mas malawak na perspektiba. Na hindi sila tamad at hindi ito ang dahilan kung bakit sila walang pag-aari. Buti na lang hindi lang ako umasa sa mga teorya ng social sciences, kinailangan ko syang ilapat sa reyalidad. At sa mga pagkakataong iyon, mayayakap mo ang katotohanan.

      • poverty does not give them an excuse to grab someone else’s land. I think what bianca is saying is and i agree with her sentiments, is that for these informal settlers to fight fair. everyone is contributing blood, sweat and tears for this country so why can’t they? A few years back i barely had anything. needless to say, i’m poor. i strived hard. i did not let the notion of my being poor to stop me from being a successful businessman today. they accepted their fate to be poor. that can’t be the case. hindi fair for the rest of us.

      • “everyone is contributing blood, sweat and tears for this country so why can’t they?”

        They already are. Although sa kanila may extra blood kasi madalas violent ang demolitions.

    10. Juan Antonio Menchaca on

      I do not own a house or any real estate property. I am unemployed.I do not squat on anybody’s property. I do not block traffic with the vehicle I drive. The government takes a tax bite out of everything I spend on. I don’t take drugs,alcohol or gamble on jueteng. I did not father children I could not support. I don’t drive a kuliglig and do a counterflow against the traffic and threaten indignant tax paying ,law abiding motorists with violence. I do not attack the police for trying to uphold the law and barricade the streets to inconvenience everybody else trying to improve their lives. This is getting tiresome. The Politicians allow this in the guise of being pro-Poor I have personally seen squatter recipients of multiple housing units which are for rent or have been sold.They then return to squatting to obtain more units. We are tired of being hostage to corrupt politicians and their ignorant noon-time show watching minions.Let us not wait for the silent majority to start taking back the streets with Death Squads and unsolved killings.

    11. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Household and human waste from these settlements clog the waterways that help in draining floodwater from the city. Just wait until this coming typhoon season and let’s see what kind of sentiments the neck-high floods will bring. They need to go. Now.

    12. Hindi porket mahirap sila ay puwede na nilang gawin lahat.

      Ilegal ang pagtira sa lupang hindi iyo. Dahil dito dapat kang paalisin.

      Let’s not justify illegal acts with philosophical panderings and making the hardworking middle class feel guilty or look evil.

    13. Katrina you forgot to mention that the same squatters are the ones that continually robs us both in our homes and outside, the ones who abduct and kill innocent civilians and are the same squatters who perpetually demand that the govt provide for all of their daily needs like housing, education, medicare, food and just about anything material they can think even though they comprise a majority of the population and do not pay taxes … have you ever considered how we law-abiding and tax-paying citizens feel knowing that even though we comprise only about 20% of the country’s population we are expected to subsidize not only our needs but the needs of the other 80% as well?!?!?

    14. great article, stretched my imagination. i mean, looking at it, who, in the first place, gave these people such low, just-enough-to-breathe-free-oxygen salaries? who else but the very same people who complain about the situation they’re forced to exist in.

      stretching my imagination some more, it would be cool to watch those of the same class hire each other to do dirty work that badly needs to be done. “dude, would you clean the toilet for me? like, daily?”

      • be it as it may, pero would it be ok if squat on your piece of land? a land na pinaghirapan ng parents mo? aangkinin nila kasi mahirap lang sila at walang pambayad. if ok lang sayo then I don’t think you merit a good debate.

    15. You have not taken into consideration the fact that there are a lot of PRO squatters. While many of the contractual workers reside near or in the squatter areas, many of them are actually paying for rent to the owner of that house. Now, that owner of the house is not the owner of the land but is a professional squatter. Another thing – you say that those are the construction workers, jeepney drivers, etc. Sure, a percentage of them are those people. But not all of them. Majority of these people are just good for nothing and, in many cases, part of some gangs and syndicates.

      These areas just become bases for illegal activities. Truth is that there are people, who chose to squat in Metro Manila, who could have better lives in the provinces if they are not too lazy to tend to what resources we have there. Sometimes I hear about people who sold their land, cow, carabao etc but are, at present, part of the squatter population. If it were me, I’d rather live in the province than to have such life in the city.

    16. The point of the middle classes for their opinion isn’t just for the sake of popularity or to be “matapobre”. It is about the unfairness. The middle class work hard pay for their time, their lives, sacrifice time and bonding with family and friends to work. Yet they pay taxes for every little thing. If they want something they work harder by overtime or working on holidays and guess what? they pay more taxes!

      On the contrary the provinces aren’t poor if the informal settlers or if their ancestors didn’t sell their land to move to manila. Manila isn’t heaven, well not anymore. If they aren’t educated what sort of work did they want to get here anyway? what they are now just informal settlers? Professional squatters? Most of them end up with tons of children only to be future criminals? These people what are they doing now? sure some work legitimately if you call prostitution legal. No seriously, sure some of them work legally as contractual workers but that’s a small piece of them so, I show my sympathy and salute these people who work hard and legally to earn their right to live but I despise the people who feel entitled even if they don’t even work.

      Not every “citizen” deserves to be taken care of the country because you can’t even call yourself a citizen if you only contribute stupidity, bad reputation, and hardships for others. Also we have bad governance because most of these stupid people are easily bribed and vote for the wrong reasons. This alone makes them a bad citizen. They don’t only affect themselves but affect the hard working middle class too by giving them stupid leaders.

    17. “The truth is this: the people who live in these communities are the lifeblood of any city’s underground economy. They are your contractual workers: the construction worker whose hands built that building you call office, the factory worker who allows you to have your Coke every day, the janitor or janitress in your school. They are the jeep and bus and MRT drivers, the ones who make sure you get to work, the tindera who sells you your yosi, the salesgirl at the mall who helps you choose a pair of shoes.”- I am bothered by this arguement. It is as if you are telling me that we need them :( We are so accustomed to problems to the point that we ignore the need to solve it and this is one of the crucial problem! Why are we allowing them to have this kind of jobs at a contractual basis at a meager wage with no opportunity to have a better job?!? because we need them to do all of this? I believe that the problem of informal settlers can be solve as long as we give them the opportunity to make their lives better. If they don’t take those opportunities, then no program can change their reality of being poor :(

    18. Yes, those “informal settlers” are the contractual workers you cited, the bus drivers. the sales ladies, etc. but that doesn’t give them the right to inhabit a land owned by someone else. We are under the same country and under the same law. If we are supposed to follow the laws of this country, who gave those “informal settlers” the authority to break them?

      I very much understand that this article is very much opinionated but opening another problem isn’t the solution to a bigger one. The “anti-squatter syndrome” you described in your article isn’t really about being “matapobre,” it’s about the other people of this country having the right to voice out their opinions, may it be because of bandwagon or not.

    19. I agree with what Gideon says in his comment. You only enlightened the fact that Internet trolls exist in social media. The fact that ‘informal settling’ is proliferating and the government’s halfhearted efforts remains. And those needs solutions fast.

    20. your artcile offers NO SOLUTION. As a land owner, how will I assert my right to ownership of the land kung hahayaan ko na lang silang tumira sa lupa na I WORKED HAD FOR IN ACQUIRING? the land that I paid taxes for? PAANO YUNG KARAPATAN KO BILANG MAY-ARI? Unless these freeloaders pay me rent for the land that their houses are standing on, or pay the taxes, they have no right to stay there.

      • The article was not written to put a solution to anything. It merely discusses a syndrome which we all should be aware of.

      • we are very much aware of it, thank you very much. frankly, we don’t care how they live or make a living. point is they are not excused from the law just because they’re “mahirap.”

      • Sir, with all due respect, “land owners”, are part of the problem. The idea of owning land at all is immoral, and the fact that people subscribe to the unchristian, unethical idea that land can OWNED just indicates our own deep entrenchment in a wholly immoral system.

        All of this “righteous indignation” over the squatter problem is misplaced. There’s nothing righteous about this cause, as we ourselves are freeloaders on God’s green earth, which no man can claim to own. To think we own land because of some piece of paper or some imaginary currency we’ve handed to an immoral government is the height of arrogance.

        We’re all squatters on God’s property, and it would be best to realize that rather than flying off the handle.

      • sir. with all due respect. your dogmatic point of view is misplaced. we have laws to abide to and if you don’t respect that then you’re part of the problem. you say that it’s a sin just because these other people who have worked hard and are able to buy land in essence. There are two kinds of people in the world… pag inisip mo at tinaggap mo na mahirap ka, alam mo na kung san ka pupulutin… at eventually papaalisin.

    21. Bigo ang mga LGUs na gampanan kanilang tungkulin para sa pabahay, sang-ayon sa Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992. Sa kaso ng mga informal settlers sa North Triangle, lumalabas na ang malamang na sanhi ng kabiguan ng LGU ay pagkaganid. Pinag-interesan at ikinalakal ang lupain na nakaserba para sa pabahay ng mga urban poor.

      Nitong nakaraang kongreso, muntik nang pumasa ang “National Land Uses Act.” Ngunit may senador na dumiskarte, teka lang daw muna at may probisyon na gusto niyang amendahan. Siya’y pinagbigyan. Siya’y di na nagpakita sa sesyon mula noon hanggang matapos kanyang termino. Kung ang hula ninyo ay si Manny Villar ang senador na nang diskarel, tama kayo.

      Mula 1946, alaga nang paikutan at kulimbatan ng mga apo ni Damaso, ng mga biyaya ng kalayaan ang mga apo ni Lapu-Lapu. Simple lang ang kanilang ginawang diskarte. Hindi nila kinopya sa US constitution ang karapatan sa TRIAL BY JURY ng mamamayan noong nilimbag ang 1935 Philippine Constitution.

    22. “They would be voters for the local government anywhere they are. Which is to say that they have official addresses that are based on that informal settlement’s own address.

      Which is to say they are registered with the barangay, if not the city hall; more often than not they pay some form of tax or another, official and otherwise. In many instances informal settlers have papers that prove they are in fact official residents of the spaces they’ve come to call home.”

      I rent an apartment, have its address registered as my official residence, and pay residence taxes for my domicile. While I’m not registered there as part of the local electorate, it’s a simple administrative matter of changing my district and registration address. When I get back from work, I engage in leisurely activities which may qualify this place as my home.

      In light of all these, I’m far from convinced that I own the house and lot in which I reside [and have been paying for] belong to me and that I have every right to stay in this place when its legal owners decide to do something with it when my contract with them expires. You’re welcome.

    23. juan dela valjean on

      i find this sympathizing, showing perspective however as to what the post above said, offers no clear solution. we do need to understand that our government ushered, created this mindset of the informal settlers by revising laws that decriminalized squatting and making it a responsibility of the land owner and government to provide support upon demolition and so on. Informal settlers are not always the poor, as seen in the news – those deemed middle class were not compensated. This habit was brought about by us, government tolerating this behavior. the informal settlers is not the problem, maybe if we are smart enough to vote for the right public servants maybe we already have curbed this issue among other things.

    24. Anti-Bandwagoning on

      This looks like you’re going against the bandwagon just for the sake of.

      There’s no clear point nor a suggestion of some sort to address the issue. Just a dilluted idea that maybe, just maybe majority of the people complaining about these illegal occupants are wrong (or not, because really I don’t even think you’re trying to say something here)

    25. Haven’t lived anywhere near a real “built-for-purpose” squatters area, I see. Sure, Twitter can oversimplify, but, it is also as easy to be sentimental and detached.

      When truth be told, many of these squatters are pros, used by the rich to push down an area’s value.

      Sure, the people whose lives you painted in this article are there too, but so much more of them live with family members in cramped, legally-rented apartments. Like most issues about poverty, this one is complex and convoluted in so many levels, with an endless supply of pointing fingers.

    26. These illegal settlers are people, too. And they haven’t had lady luck smile upon them so they are dirt-poor. They are just trying to survive in a corrupt society. The main problem is the government. Poor urban planning. Poor development planning. Poor everything! The government keeps on developing the city when it is forgetting the provinces. If you develop the provinces, support agricultural industries, these people would go to the provinces to find work. The city cannot support all these people but it’s the only place in the country where there’s work. No one should be blamed but all of us for allowing the gov’t to run this country like amateurs. Every single Filipino is to blame for what the country is facing… every single one.

      • living there for generations is not about luck. i sympathize with the real poor, but you must also consider the middle class families who worked hard and saved every centavos to buy those lands. hindi lahat ng land owner eh mga ayalas, zobels and gokongweis. marami ring decent hard working middle class pinoys na religiously nagbabayad ng buwis. just look at the pictures of those informal settlers na nasunugan sa dela rosa st. na tabi ng makati med. tingnan mo yung mga nasalbang big flat screen tv’s, washing machines, fans at yung ibang nasunugan na nakunan ng cameras, naka iphone. hindi naman sa pagiging manhid, pero some of these are not marginalized na madalas nating sabihin. yung nademolished sa tulyahan river na nainterview pa, nangungupahan siya ng 1,800 pesos a month, ng tanungin ng reporter nasaan ang nagpapaupa, sagot..”sa cavite po nakatira, sa relocation center” ikaw na bahalang mag-isip, kaibigan. galing din ako sa looban sa may paco, malapit sa kahilom sa pandacan kaya alam ko ang sinasabi ko. nasunog (kuno) ang lugar namin dahil pilit na pinapasok ni bagatsing at Imeldific ang flexi homes nuon.

      • anlaki ng problema mo kung isa ka sa mga nag-asa ng buhay mo sa gobyerno. bakit mo gagawin yun? good god.

    27. nicely said, katrina. interesting way of defining poverty in wasting money away for vices.

      • how other people spend their hard-earned cash is non of your business really. guilt trip? no way. fact is, they are breaking the law. fight fair lang.

    28. I don’t want to sound antagonistic but your article offers no clear solution. What do you propose we do about the squatters who are illegally occupying the areas? They can’t stay where they are, that much is certain. They can’t be talked to peacefully relocate (we’ve tried it, they’ve violently reacted against it). So the only logical course left is to force them out through demolition. They are citizens, I understand that, but that means they also have to respect our laws which say it’s wrong to take or use something that doesn’t belong to you, i.e. the land they’re living on. This is a really sensitive issue and I agree that people shouldn’t ride on it to gain popularity, but the problem remains and we can’t stop the only logical solution. It’s not nice to drive them out like animals, I also agree to that, but it must be done and it must be done now.

      • I think the answer to your question will only be available if you really understood the article. Finding the solution will eventually come if we first understand their existence in this community. Turning the tables around, your premise is still the same, they cannot exist in this community because they are informal settlers. Illegal occupation is imposed upon, not only by papers or documents, but by the popular concepts of the upper social class. The solution is simple, if you really understand what the article is all about, give the land to the people. If the rich wants the poor to go to the province and settle their, why don’t we turn the tables around? Why don’t rich people build their condos in the province since they have the financial capacity to travel to the city since they have the chedeng to do so. And instead, buy the lot and build condo-type mid-rise buildings for the poor?

      • If the rich people build their condos in the province then the squatters will squat there because that’s where they get their livelihood – from people with money to spend. Cities become cities because that’s where the economy is. It’s not something arbitrarily decided.

      • “The solution is simple, if you really understand what the article is all about, give the land to the people.”

        Then I urge you to give YOUR land to them. I hope you understand the repercussions of your words, because you just stated that these informal settlers are an exception to society. You just said that they shouldn’t pay, but everybody else does.

        On one hand, land owners who knowingly let people squat on their land and expect a peaceful eviction are delusional. They should expect the madness that will rain down on them from these informal settlers, but the fact remains the same: it is THEIR (official land owners) land. These people have lived on free land for so long. Their excuse of saying, “I grew up here, my children grew up here, my children’s children grew up here,” just means that they had that long of a period to save and actually acquire legal land, but chose not too.

        Look, we’ve been going through the sentimental route for so long and our country is soooo good at it. It’s hard to always keep philosophizing and romanticizing our broken down society! It’s pointless, and downright frustrating. Don’t you think it’s time for real action to stimulate change?

      • wow! so if i borrow something from you and you want it back, I can just ignore/resist you because I think I need it more than you do and you should just move on with your life feeling happy because you helped someone even though it cost you the thing I borrowed. So what I will do is keep on borrowing things from you and then when you want it back, I’ll just ignore/resist you again

      • I second the concerns Mr. Gideon posed here. From what I know, the squatters (excuse me for not being fond of euphemisms) are notified when they need to leave. This pretty much doesn’t work. They’ll fight for it. The mass media would portray them as helpless victims and the land owners as the insensitive tyrants.

        What would be a rational take on this then? Any statistics you can give us on how much of the workforce is composed of squatters that they can indeed be called the “lifeblood of any city’s underground economy”? If one doesn’t vouch for them, does that automatically mean we are seeing them as unimportant to the country? What do you suggest these middle class and rich do for such an issue? Should the squatters just be left alone?

      • there are over 11 million people in metro manila, and less than 600,000 of them are squatters according MMDA data.

        tell us then, katrina, how less than 6% of the metro’s population, a good portion of whom are jobless and contribute NOTHING, have reached such level of importance that they cannot be done away with.