It’s about time the Philippine government blasts squatters out of the water

Apparently emboldened by the rising anger over the man-made nature of the massive floods that devastated much of Metro Manila last week and increasingly loud calls to rectify the problems related to it that politicians had allowed to fester for decades, President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III has issued a strong mandate for decisive action to be taken. Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson on Monday echoed this directive when he announced his latest marching orders from the President: “I just received instructions from the President that if push comes to shove, we will have to blast these houses if the residents do not leave within a certain period.” He was referring to various illegally-built structures in and around “waterways and other danger zones”…

Singson said last week’s flooding proved the need for government to set a deadline to remove settlements from danger zones and that 195,000 informal settler families would be forcibly relocated if needed.

“They have to be removed,” Singson added.

Of the target families, some 125,000 families live along waterways in Metro Manila and another 70,000 around Laguna Lake.

Squatters, also known by the politically-correct term “informal settlers”, and the illegal structures they erect, have long been seen as the single biggest urban blight that contributes significantly to the problem of flooding in the Philippines’ wretched capital. Add to that too all the other illegally-erected structures of businesses backed by local politicians, such as the fish pens that proliferate all over Laguna de Bay. In both of these, we have before us the mother of all low-hanging-fruit solutions that President BS Aquino’s achievement-starved government badly needs.

Indeed, all these being illegal, there is in principle no legal impediment to a bit of state-sanctioned violence being applied for a change. There really is no reason why government forces could not just simply “blast” them literally out of the water.

Perhaps, making Metro Manila a difficult place to live in for impoverished people might force Filipinos to think twice about summarily setting up camp there. Simply enforcing the law may instill the sort of resourcefulness and enterprise that have long eluded Filipinos and, instead, force people to live off the otherwise rich land of these volcanic islands.

At the root of the problem, as most Filipinos are already aware of, is the country’s enormous population. This little complication is what makes otherwise obvious solutions languish in the monumentally convoluted chatter that characterises the national “debate”. Yet it is a well-known reality that every additional Filipino born is a macro-economic liability. The law of supply-and-demand is very clear about how enormous numbers spell certain devaluation.

Perhaps, in these floods, nature is telling us something. In that light, history has some stories to tell. A series of epidemics known as the “Black Death” that swept across Europe over the latter half of the fourteenth century decimated its human population. In England, a population of 6 million was almost halved by the pestilence. The aftermath of that devastation yielded an interesting outcome, however. Peter Ackroyd, in his book The History of England – Foundation describes what happened…

Yet the pestilence had slow but permanent effects on English society. The shortage of labour [as a result of the population decline] had the immediate result of increasing both the level of wages and the chances of employment. The phenomenon of the landless or impoverished peasant wholly disappeared. But the rising demands of the working people who had survived, their worth now doubled by the epidemic, provoked a reaction from the landowners and magnates. The knights of the shires, in particular, perceived a threat to good order.

An Ordinance of Labourers was passed by a parliament in 1349, forbidding employers to pay more for labour than they had before the pestilence. The same Act deemed that it was illegal for an unemployed man to refuse work. The measures were not realistic. Many workers and their families could simply move to another district and to a more generous employer who was willing to ignore the law. Some migrated to towns, for example, where there was great demand for manual labourers such as masons and carpenters. A ploughman might become a tiler. More than enough work was available.


Many younger people now possessed their own holdings of land. And the best land did not remain vacant for long. There had once been too many farmers and labourers working too little soil, but now they were dispersed over the countryside.

Interesting bit of history there, ain’t it?

If you think about it, Manila’s squatters occupy precious land and overrun and utterly devalue the city’s labour market — all without paying their dues. Indeed, Manila’s legitimate taxpaying residents effectively subsidise their continued residency in the country’s premier city yet, at the same time, suffer the effects of the degradation these “informal settlers” subject the city environment to. Where is the justice in that?


Post Author: benign0

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44 Comments on "It’s about time the Philippine government blasts squatters out of the water"

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Support the president always! He knows what to do. Unlike Gloria, a weak leader, never had that will to get rid of informal settlers because she got her cheated vote from them.

braulio calongin

our government will be surely worry about 195,000 individual families which will affect their salary when the budget is not enough.

While I do agree that squatters should be moved and not allowed to build shanties on land that they do not own; I am irritated at the idea of “blasting them out of the water”. The cavalier attitude that many take toward the squatters seems as though they forget that although these people are there illegally, they are still PEOPLE first and foremost. Many squatters are living in the house that their parents or even grandparents built (have you been to Tandang Sora’s squatter area as I have? They have concrete structures for God’s sake! It is clear that the… Read more »

Technical detail…. which poses an impediment.

Some LINA LAW has requirements — some things have to happen before “forcibly relocating” the squatters.


1.) Allow foreign companies in the Phils.
2.) Make them not focus on Manila but also on other cities.
3.) Wait for a sufficient time. Build public housing units
4.) Demolish all the squatters, paying them compensation and moving them to alloted housing units.
5.)Demolish buildings and build waterways that could not only lesen flooding but possibly can be used as a taxiway for boats, giving moar jobs.
7.) Profit!


Say that you are able to relocate the population of illegal settlers to a safer area. How do you prevent those settlers from selling their new homes for quick cash and build in the very place they were moved out of?

I suggest they make the men and women work to build their own place, pay them for it and make them sign a contract in which they promise never to return to their old habitat. Promise them a job in return for their compliance. Make them learn to be diligent and loyal employees by teaching them how to fish.


Dapat meron mahigpit na zoning policy lalo diyan sa mga populated areas.


I used to believe that the flooding was the squatters fault because of the news but after living here now for over 3 years I find that hard to believe now, more like a serious issue with diverting water and then the complaint is that the squatters block the water, come on.


Just scanned the article really. I’m too lazy to read for now, but one word immediately popped out of my mind once I saw these in the headlines: LINA =))

Matthew Parkes

[pedantry] Decimated actually means to reduce by 10%. The population was halved not decimated. [/pedantry]
BS will only enforce this law if it can be proven that it has some link to the Hacienda. After all, I am sure the family line is that all of the farmers of the Hacienda are simply squatters….


Illegal squatters barely have any rights. They are merely used as cheap commodity for politicians and publicity by those trashy variety shows. Their settlements are nothing more than pig pens or chicken hatches to contain them until needed. Them moving out would certainly change for a whole lot better, but the bigwigs won’t have that. They’ll pull everything in their power to keep the status quo through backdoor deals and bureaucracy. That’s how deeply entrenched their dependence on these poor people have. Funny how that works.


I would wait until AbNoy implements this plan and see if it actually works before I sing any of his praises. We know how he tends to make promises he doesn’t actually keep, and skews the facts, figures, and results just to mislead the public.

In fairness to him tho’, he could be lauded for taking an unpopular position which is quite unusual for him.

Hyden Toro
Unfortunately, I had heard the same statement; when I was young…Now, I’m matured and married. I hear the same statement again. Squatters, which they sweeten their term as :”Informal Settlers”; are like “Houseflies. You drive them away. The next day; or the next week; or the next month. They are back in the same place, where they build their Shanties. They are protected by politicians, as sources of Block Votes. Erap Estrada use them, when elections. Erap distributes: Tuyo, rice, noodles, etc…to show his care for them, and to Hook their votes….So, I cross my fingers on the marching order.… Read more »

Sad but true. The majority of the votes come from their vote farms.:(

Yeah, reminds of that controversial disease, the bubonic plague. But hey isn’t it too much if the same thing will happen and this time, to the filipinos? Well I won’t pray for such a deadly phenomenon to occur in the Philippines much even in the farthest future. Well any politician won’t sacrifice his own name just to forcibly blast those people out along marikina river. Come election time no matter how hideous these informal settlers to the eyes are, their numbers and ballots will keep them attractive to the eyes of those politicians. I just can’t imagine how dirty the… Read more »

What is the exact point of this article? We know what the problem is.So is the author suggesting a divine extermination of his fellow countrymen?or simply giving us who wasted are time reading this article a history lesson that has nothing to do with the problem the squatters have created?


no real solution offered here. just complaints again that weve heard before


Damn, this article was too awesome to read.

I have posted here before under a different alias; ‘Du hast’, I think. And I specifically stated that if the squatters were to be removed, and that would solve most of our problems… And now it seems we share the same sentiment, benign0.

Although, I would like to go on that the squatters are not the root of the problem.


While I understand that the problem with squatters is a really tough one, killing them off outright en masse? I’m pretty sure that translates to genocide at worst.