Land ownership Hell: The Philippines is Squatter Central when it comes to government subsidies!

Squatting does indeed pay in the Philippines. The most recent pandering to this vote-rich sector of Philippine society is an 18,000-peso “rental subsidy” to be provided by the Philippine government to each squatter family relocated to other settlement sites. This follows a reported announcement from Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson that “there is a need to clear the estuaries (esteros) and other waterways of informal settlers.”

For its part, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (“May One Movement” or KMU) denounced the 18,000-peso dole-out as “too meager even for renting houses and won’t cover additional expenses caused by being uprooted from the families’ sources of livelihood,” and offered their take on what the solution ought to be…

“Policies on the urban poor should primarily be about what’s good for the urban poor, not what’s cheap for the government. The government will never find a solution to the problems of the urban poor if it weighs options on the basis of what’s cheap,” [KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” ] Labog said.

“The government should think beyond giving money to the poor or shelling out money during typhoons. The urban poor are calling for decent jobs, decent housing, and affordable social services,” he added.

Filipino warriors defending their 'informal settlement'
Filipino warriors defending their ‘informal settlement’

You wonder though why the “poor” is entitled not only to “decent jobs” and “decent housing” but an 18,000-peso “rental subsidy” as well. Last I heard, it is rich folk and people who occupy their domiciles legally who pay all the taxes that fund all these government “gifts” to these “less fortunate” sods.

I’ve been raised to believe that a “decent job” is something one earns by (1) listening to your parents’ sensible advise, (2) studying hard, and (3) working hard to earn your boss’s respect and confidence. So following that logic, one can infer that people who hold “decent jobs” are those that somehow did something right in the past.

Then jumping off that, the whole point of having a “decent job” is so that you secure yourself a reliable enough income stream to afford you “decent housing” either through an ability to pay a good enough amount of rent or to make the payments on a housing loan.

I fail to see where in the “solution” offered by the KMU this chain of causality I described above fits in. They seem to imply that bagging the good job and nice house is somebody else’s responsibility as far as the average squatter is concerned.

To be fair, squatters’ lifestyles are consistent with this KMU philosophy. They live on land funded by the hard work of somebody else and put a strain on public works and services funded by somebody else’s tax money.

Funny the way we paint these squatters (oh excuuuzzze me, “informal settlers” pala) like they are the victims in the overall scheme of things when in actual fact they hold Philippine society hostage by virtue of their enormous numbers. As Neal Cruz in his recent Inquirer article laments…

Even the government, at national and local levels, seems powerless against them. Or more accurately, is not willing to get the ire of squatters by relocating them. Reason: Squatters are voters. And squatters usually vote as a block. They vote for whomever their leaders choose. And with barangay elections coming up, it would be even more difficult for barangay officials to muster the courage and the will power to eject squatters. In fact, some of these local officials are the very same people who brought in squatters to vote for them. Some barangay officials (and even councilors, mayors and congressmen) protect certain squatter colonies because they consider these their bailiwicks.

That’s not exactly a new notion — just one of those commonsensical concepts that hover way above the intellectual faculties of most Filipinos. As far as the maths are concerned, there’s nothing like an accounting of who coughs up the cash to put the whole idea of the “victimisation” of “informal settlers” in the proper perspective…

Look at it this way: The homeowners pay the real estate taxes—in Quezon City, the highest in the whole country—as well as many other taxes. These taxes pay the salaries and allowances of all City Hall and barangay officials, as well as for all city assistance extended to squatters and other city expenses made for squatters. On the opposite end, the squatters pay almost no direct taxes (real estate tax, business tax, income tax, etc.). Worse, they are lawbreakers, technically stealing properties owned by others. So why do they have more rights than the law-abiding, tax-paying citizens?

I guess somebody needs to remind Mr Cruz that the Philippines is a society where all the wrong arguments win. Foremost of these arguments is who really is the bad guy around here.

As long as we celebrate poverty, poverty will celebrate us.

[Photo courtesy The National.]


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57 Comments on "Land ownership Hell: The Philippines is Squatter Central when it comes to government subsidies!"

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Rey Mendoza

IF all Filipinos became lawyers and doctors, a good number of lawyers and doctors will still have to wash floors and perform menial jobs for larger society to run. The problem is that society is unable to give pay decently for such jobs, if indeed jobs were available. No decent housing programs, no comprehensive programs for health. The phenomenon of informal settlers must be explained beyond moral turpitude of the urban poor. Unplanned urban development that attracts the rural poor onto cities is one of them. Land invasion is but a natural consequence of government incompetence in this area.


That’s what many people who make a decent living are complaining about. Their money and property are being siphoned off to support the “indecent” people (if you don’t like that adjective, just look at the picture above) who love to rely on dole outs. This and CCT will only make more people even lazier to take jobs. Funniest way to picture it is that they’ll just take to the streets and hold a rally where they hold their hands high pointing down to their “nganga” mouths.

Chris Villanueva

Kung sino pang wala sa lugar sila pa ang matapang, only in the Philippines.


only politicians pander to squatters not the common citizen. we need leaders with the will to eject these freeloaders and instill some discipline but to suggest that this problem is unique to the philippines is irresponsible and an outright lie. see brazil site of upcoming world cup and olympics hehehe

Concerned Citizen
Have you read the Philippine Constitution or are you preaching another failed Western system for Filipinos to suck-on? Let me educate you so you don’t spout diatribes on the net without even checking the legality of your proposed measures. “1987 CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, ARTICLE XIII URBAN LAND REFORM AND HOUSING Section 9. The State shall, by law, and for the common good, undertake, in cooperation with the private sector, a continuing program of urban land reform and housing which will make available at affordable cost, decent housing and basic services to under-privileged and homeless citizens in… Read more »
Hyden Toro

Squatters problems cannot be solved. The Squatters are sources of captive votes of politicians…no solution, unless you hang all politicians supporting Squatters.

Look at the case in Davao, some years ago…


If the Philippines turns into a welfare state, expect more criminals, terrorists, and/or illegal immigrants from any other countries to pursue illegally migrating to the Philippines.


We lionize the poor too much, and we attribute to them a moral ascendancy that they really do not have. That’s why I wrote about The Glamorization of the Poor.

To Concerned Citizen: I think you fail to understand what you posted. “Section 9. The State shall, by law, and for the common good, undertake, in cooperation with the private sector, a continuing program of urban land reform and housing which will make available at affordable cost, decent housing and basic services to under-privileged and homeless citizens in urban centers and resettlement areas.” So how is this done? Well, government provides the guidelines for low cost housing BP344. Private Sector is approached to proceed with developing low cost projects either via house & lot, condominium/apartment units. Government puts in place… Read more »
benjamin b.

no special treatment for them I worked hard to earn and have money to live. why cant they?


What about the rich but squatter Sys, Tans, Gokongweis, etc.? They only have fake land titles. Rich squatters is what they are. That huge piece of land near Quezon Ave. MRT station is one big fake land title of Lucio Tan. And there are plenty others. Typically Filipino. They can enforce the law on the poor, but not the rich. Now that’s rich (no pun intended).


I think people should understand that “squatting” is theft and should be treated thusly. Why should law-abiding, tax-paying citizens subsidize these thieves, who in turn, vote bigger thieves into government? I am all for helping the poor but it must be done in a manner that will have long-term impact instead of just handing them dole-outs.


[…] this all goes down the toilet when you find that these vocal “proud Pinoys” are actually cockroaches who are too lazy to work, go drinking all day and want to milk their relatives […]


[…] and services funded by somebody else’s tax money. I elaborated on this in a previous article Land ownership Hell: The Philippines is Squatter Central when it comes to government subsidies!. This being the Philippines which aspires to be a First World nanny state (despite lacking the cash […]


Nakakaburat yung Aleng nagrereklamo sa TV na binigyan ng Bahay at Lupa. Galit pa eh! Tangina nun

bata bata

kamot ulo ako nung napanood ko kagabi na para daw hindi na sila ng tambay ay “bigyan sila ng trabah”. now tell me, sa lahat ng kakilala niyong nagtatrabaho sino dun ang “binigyan ng trabaho”. except maybe for those who have parents with businesses, lahat nag-apply at nag-hanap. even vendors made efforts. bakit sila gusto bigay lahat? mula bahay hanggang sa pagkakakitahan libre…

Everyone will agree that “small time” lot owner can do nothing about this if he is alone or two, I think lot owners with squatters on their lot should band together to have more voice or force against this fight or any willing lot owner to support because they will benefit eventually if this fight will be successful, I know it’s a long battle but is doable. Anyone willing to support? A lot of agenda is needed to attack this, so we need expert in many field. A lot of talk is made but it seems nothing is done.Can we… Read more »
I always almost eachtime i check my payslip seeing almost 50% of gross pay goes to tax, i save as best as I can for my everyday budget because i take public transpo everyday to get to work which is an hour from my home and reserve for my bills esp. for house rental, see i dont have my own house while these people who do not pay taxes, who do not play fair get thier houses for free yet complaining that they do not have source of income near thier relocation area, etc.. too many complaints when they DO… Read more »

Lord Willin Lord Forgive, use not the term ‘h*ll’ loosely, ‘symbolically seeming’, jokingly, metaphorically, etc. Lord Willin

Lord Knows i mayn’t judge, Lord Willin Lord Forgive be i or any wrong or offbase PLGB