The problem of squatters in the Philippines cannot be solved by invoking ‘humanitarian’ appeal

But of course. Perhaps there is some merit in what a “human rights regional official” and the “officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines” assert in siding with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on the grounds that taking “the humanitarian point of view” is called for in this situation. This situation, relates to Duterte’s punching court sheriff Abe Andres after he acted on oders to proceed with a demoliton of illegally-built structures that were home to 500 families — squatters — in Barangay Kapitan Tomas Monteverde Sr. Suliman, Agdao.

Squatting is a huge social and economic problem in the Philippines, more so because squatters are protected by laws that make it difficult to remove them from properties they infest. 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Unfortunately PD 772 was repealed when Republic Act No. 8368, the “Anti-Squatting Law Repeal Act of 1997” took effect. RA 8368 also authorised dismissal of all pending cases that drew upon the provisions of the now repealed PD 772.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.

Unfortunately for the hapless landowner, the Philippines is a society that likes to play the “humanitarian” card when it comes to squatters. Even the use of the word “squatter” has for some time been routinely dropped in “polite” conversation in favour of the euphemism “informal settler.” Indeed, “human rights” activists have been quick to side with Duterte, in the process becoming apologists for a mayor who, in front of TV cameras, launched into an unprovoked assault against Andres, an officer of the Judiciary who, apparently, was just out to implement a court order. That, plus the convenient downplaying of what was clearly criminal behaviour on the part of the “informal settlers” affected by the demolition order who were throwing rocks and sharp objects at Andres’s team and the police officers who were escorting them, is typical of a society where impunity rules.

Bottom line is that the issue of evicting squatters from land they have no right to inhabit will not have been muddled into idiotic debates that invoke “humanitarian” appeal had laws on squatting and legal use of both public and private property been observed from the very start. The problem with the way things are done in the Philippines is that small misdemeanors get routinely tolerated. And then more and more of them get tolerated until the pile of little misdemeanors gets bigger and bigger. We no longer see the small misdemeanors but behold the big pile of impunity looming tall before us and wonder, how this came to be.

It’s simple, really when one considers how the Rule of Law ideally applies to everything and all people — from the smallest ordinance and from the most ordinary people from the very start.

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Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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44 Comments on "The problem of squatters in the Philippines cannot be solved by invoking ‘humanitarian’ appeal"

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Hyden Toro
Guest

Just repeal the laws that protect Squatters. If you encourage people, to build Shanties on Public Lands and pass laws that protect these behaviours…Are we not encouraging Mendicancy Mentality? These Squatters; not only, do POLLUTE the: rivers; esteros; lakes; seashores; etc…some of them are also breeding places of criminals…I sympathize with the poor, with no shelter…however, the government did not plan for the increase of our population…due to the dogmas of the Catholic Church on birth control…

Hyden Toro
Guest

This land for shelter issue is the result also of Feudalism…the too rich, like Noynoy Aquino, owns, huge tracts of lands…while the too poor, like the Squatters, do not even own a single tract of land…even to build for a house…

Paul Farol
Guest
There is little reason not to be able to own your own house. Pag-IBIG Fund, for example, gives out loans for as low as 500,000 and this can be amortized for 30 years. Yes, that is 500,000 pesos per Pag-IBIG member and so, if you are husband and wife, you can get as much as 1,000,000 pesos. That’s 2,777.77 a month. How much is rent in the city? Depending on the area, it can be as low as 2,000 bucks for a room (squatters area) or as upwards of 6,000 for a small apartment unit (depending on the area). The… Read more »
Trosp
Guest

If the amount of PHP 500,000 is the value including the interest after 30 years, @6% PA interest, the loaned amount or principal is ~PHP 87,000.Or if the PHP 500,000 is the principal, after 30 years @ 7% PA interest, it will be ~PHP 3.8 M. I’m using the current Pagibig housing loan interest.

For the media, they have this politically correct term for the squatters – informal settlers.

My politically incorrect term for them – committed voters.

Dr. Noh
Guest
Its kinda naive to think that squatters are even paying members of PAGIBIG. why pay for lodging you can get for free? Much more convenient to be a professional squatter. Free land, free electricity, in the most accessible and convenient locations in the metro. If they get a real house, then they have to actually pay for water and electricity instead of just jumping a line from the nearest Meralco post, and the places they could afford would be so out of the way that commuting would be too much of a hassle In short, there is no incentive for… Read more »
Joe America
Guest
“Unfortunately for the hapless landowner, the Philippines is a society that likes to play the “humanitarian” card when it comes to squatters. ” Please allow me to be blunt. The humanitarian card is a way of life in the Philippines, where being a sorrowful beggar child with teary eyes and hand out is the fundamental economic premise. Take farming. Why is it farming instead of agribusiness? Because it is run in a humanitarian mode making sure all the needy farmers have their own little plot of land, carved out of this hacienda or that, to grow whatever they can grow.… Read more »
Joseph G
Guest
Talking about “humanitarian mode” as Joe calls it that’s the way our transport systemn works. It’s not aimed to deliver transport service in an efficient way does it? Being operated by the private sector constituted by many small but disorganized firms/owners it more like serves as a big employment machine for millions of Pinoy that know how to drive who’d otherwise be unemployed if we adopted the international standards. As a result inefficient road traffic and fuel consumption.You could only imagine the oil demand curve in a graph shifting to the right pushing prices up as taught in your Econs101… Read more »
Matthew
Guest

Repeal the laws protecting squatters! The only reason this law was passed was for the corrupt politicians to have a hold over the legitimate residents and people of their areas by coddling large groups of lawless people who would vote for them and perennially keep them in power for their own exploitation of any big money projects that come their way. More than 30 years of stupidity is enough! Real progress is severely hindered by these squatters and their political masters. Oust this evil! Reclaim our lands and our freedom from fear and injustice!

ici
Guest

max soliven used to call RA 7279 “that ‘stupid’ lina law”…and indeed how stupid. this is a law that ironically condones anarchy in the society, and as usual, the tax paying landowner, whose family worked for generations to own a tiny piece of this earth, is punished because these so-called informal settlers are the local officials’ voters.

my, how i know the feeling.

i agree with benign0, and with joe america, with the “humanitarian card”. apparently, what miriam said about law is very true in this country: the law is only a suggestion.

Dr. Noh
Guest
Joey Lina, the author of that sad, sad bill is incidentally one of the more vocal anti-RH politicians who always plays the “savior of the poor” card every chance he gets, claiming that the money for contraceptives should just be used to buy food for the poor. Brilliant! why dont we just allocate more of the national budget to give more freebies to people who have more children than they can take care of? That way, they can keep on having more and more children that will squat in every possible inch of space in the metro. Try as I… Read more »
ici
Guest

while i am of the opinion that we really do not need a law on reproductive health, i commiserate with you on finding it hard to feel pity for the poor, especially when they seem to do things with impunity, in the guise of being at a “disadvantage”. sometimes i feel that by sheer number, they are actually more powerful than the working class people. they have politicos at their mercy and are quite cheap at P200-500 per vote compared to the “pesky”, dwindling middle class who demand these politicos to actually work.

mOmmy
Guest
I can definitely speak from experience how annoyingly ridiculous is this “right” invoked by informal settlers whenever they are being ousted from the land they have lived and made money from which they did not own. And how our law protects these people. My family have worked hard since time immemorial, my ancestors being lawyers and businessmen, and through their efforts and continued efforts by my parents, we were able to own prime lands. squatters invade that land, though fenced, and basically constructed their own “buildings”. They rented those buildings to other people, even created a separate barangay unit for… Read more »
Hypopocriticamus
Guest

Right. we should drive ’em like a menacing pests. We should ignore their “right to self-preservation” they didn’t deserved it anyway. They are not related to my royal blood so why do i care? They are not even worthy to be called filipinos. I think we should kill them all “poor” so we won’t have any “land grabbing” and “professional squatter” problems.

shooter
Guest

They kind of are like pests. I mean how they leech of money. Example is when I was driving last night backing out of the parking at 1:30 am. There were no cars around and some guy was still trying to “help” me back up.

Sure they have the right to self-preservation but they should find a real job. I mean with that argument isn’t robbing people justified since it’s a way of “self-preservation”?

shooter
Guest

Agreed … when my Grandfather migrated from China here and his parents already passed away. He didn’t become a squatter. He worked hard as a young boy living in the freaking streets selling eggs. Unlike most of the “poor” who call themselves victims and complain when they are evicted in places they do not even own.

Hypopocriticamus
Guest

“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” Psalm 82:3

I guess we should critize God too because he was tolerating them? We are anti-christ anyway. 😀

MidwayHaven
Guest
From what I know about Christianity, Jesus doesn’t want us to be financially poor; that’s most likely why he always proclaimed the Kingdom of God. He however in the Beatitudes blesses those who are poor IN SPIRIT. Many of the people obviously approved by God in the Old Testament were wealthy. Job, Abraham, Jacob (Israel), and Solomon are good examples. If God wanted His “best” people to stay poor, would the scene from 1 Kings 3:5-13 have taken place? And in the New Testament, where Jesus mentions the camel and the eye of the needle, most rich people in that… Read more »
Gari
Guest
I don’t think it is fair to malign people simply based on their being poor. If we’re going to think about it no class in society, rich, middle income or poor should be looked down upon as if they are the only one’s who squat. In fact a lot of well built buildings, even those of Government do squat illegitimately. And this is more inexcusable because this is a flagrant use of power and wealth. Perhaps its high time people who own properties start thinking outside the box. Please stop thinking that real properties are absolute properties. Even the 1987… Read more »
MidwayHaven
Guest
Then why is it that these “immersions” seem to happen all the time, yet the poor are as ubiquitous as ever? Clearly that method doesn’t work, and whatever empathy the rich have are eventually dissolved. Why don’t we instead look at the perspective that in popular Pinoy culture, poverty is glorified and seen as “noble”? The truth is that it’s not. A lot of the impoverished seem to cling to some sort of mindset that an external force would help them out of their condition, and yet they don’t seem to realize that they can bring themselves out of poverty… Read more »
kagbalete
Guest

I did, and I realized that they were that way because they were stupid, and lazy….

trackback

[…] are occupying someone else’s property without any sort of legally-valid permission to do so. The decriminalization of squatting under R.A. 8368 in 1997 actually aggravated the problem, because it removed a potent incentive for […]

Squatter
Guest
“Why not try immersing ourselves with these informal settlers even for just a week end…I guarantee you folks won’t look at them the same way again” One week lang? Ako nga limang taon nagrenta ng bahay na pinapaligiran ng mga squatter. They’re very noisy and obnoxious especially when under the influence of alcohol and making stupid small talk. Tapos iistambayan pa nila yung harap ng nirerentahan kong bahay which is annoying. They do have a different set of values and culture where laziness is okay and being an asshole is a virtue. Iilan lang ang mga desenteng tao na nakatira… Read more »
Eda.Roch.
Guest

So true

ASV
Guest
Mga kababayan, Okay lang itong discussion pero kailangan ang ibang hakbang. I’m sure there are a lot of middleclass landowners who have been dispossesed of their land on account of the “LINA” Law regarding squatting/landgrabbing. If you are interested to take action, let us form a group, compile all records of cases past,present/ongoing & submit these to Malacanang/Department of Justice for review for corrective, remedial action we rightfully deserve. We can also ask our respective representatives nationwide to create a bill to repeal the ambigous protective of squatters law to correct injustice against middle class landowners. Squatting/landgrabbing should be criminalized… Read more »
Jun Ong
Guest

Hi ASV..am interested in having this “Lina” law repealed. Am not a lawyer but I am convinced this law is even unconstitutional. Squatting is no different from stealing since he occupies the land without owner’s consent. Why treat squatting differently.

Jun Ong, 09175388325

Cristina Ocampo
Guest

I am going to save your info in my account. I would like to be included in this group. I have tightened my belt for quite a while now because I had to save enough money to afford a lawyer that will get rid of just one squatter in our land and apparently this one squatter did not just cost me over 100K it will cost a lot more once I start my ejectment, tresspassing ans squatting case against her.

ASV
Guest

OOps…
Forgot to provide email
dontact for “Bayanihan Para
Sa Kaunlaran” MiddleClass
Initiatives for Justice & Progress:

phoenixsd12@gmail.com
YlangYlang

trackback

[…] than propose a new law, I propose to reinstate the law made during Marcos’ regime, which is Presidential Decree 772 which […]

Thor
Guest
What The Philippines need is a new Marcos..The people in The Philippines got NO respect for anything,and hardly no one is willing to work.All they want to do is sitting with their beer and tanduay,begging for money on internet,try to steal money trough load on cellphones.They obviously think life is a big party party.Stop this stupid useless people,throw them out of squatter areas,and into jail.They do not deserve anything.I have NEVER seen so lazy people any place on the planet earth like the pinoys,and I have seen most of this planet.I live in The Philippines as a foreigner,but I really… Read more »
Chuck
Guest

Every comment thus far sounds like indoctrinated rubbish. Not everyone accepts the “you have to work for a living” principle. Some people want to live for a living. You were born people and became a persona of slaves. Think for yourselves and you can slip free your burdensome shackles. Peace be with you.

kagbalete
Guest

Oh that’s fine, as long as you don’t live of my work….. moochers ought to be shot….

junie munie
Guest

by the way that wasn’t joe the American it was dong the pinoy hehehehe

trackback

[…] from a different angle will de-problematize it. However, this issue reveals that some Filipinos still have wrong attitudes about poverty. Something seems to be dressing up the condition of poverty as something attractive, or as […]

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