A sustainable solution to the squatter problem in the Philippines

Judging from the reaction of the readers to previous articles on squatters in the Philippines, there are definitely more decent Filipinos who are fed up with squatters who bite the hand that feed them compared to the number of readers who defended some of the squatters’ parasitic tendencies.

manila_squattersAfter my suggestion that illegal settlers should move out of their illegally occupied property, a lot of those who reacted strongly agree that the squatters have not only overstayed their welcome, they have also lost the sympathy of some of the hardworking taxpayers who have been very generous and tolerant of their abusive ways in the past.

It has come to the point where some taxpayers have already expressed their outrage and unwillingness to shoulder any relocation expenses in the future. This is after realizing that there are actually professional squatters who just take the money handed out to them by the government on condition that they agree to be relocated. Many of them, it usually turns out, will simply move to a new area to squat thereby cheating the system. The worst thing about this is that these handouts merely promote dependency instead of self-sufficiency. Some people who have decent jobs and work hard even say that life on the dole seems hassle-free.

Of course there were those who were outraged with Filipinos who were outraged by the squatters’ arrogance. Some of them say that the “elite” and “educated” should not be too harsh on the squatters who resort to violence because they are merely driven by frustration and hopelessness by government inefficiency and bureaucracy. Never mind that a lot of the people from the squatter areas are known to accept bribes from corrupt public officials who are obviously inefficient and incompetent in the performance of their jobs. We get the politicians we deserve then. People from the squatter areas contributed significantly to the electing to office of public officials who are not really interested in uplifting the poor people’s conditions. The members of the “thinking class” can be forgiven for suggesting that some Filipinos from certain socio-economic classes should not be allowed to vote at all to end the sham that happens every election.

Squatter sympathizers insist that it is the government’s sole responsibility to cater to the poor in the slums. For the record, the taxpayers have been very generous without even realizing it. The National Housing Authority (NHA) is spending P3.4-billion in low-rise housing projects that are said to be currently in various stages of development. This includes “10 low-rise housing projects, equivalent to 6,404 housing units, being built by the NHA for the 18,000 families living in the six priority waterways in Metro Manila.”

In addition, taxpayers are paying an 18,000-peso “rental subsidy” for each squatter family relocated to other settlement sites. That’s a lot of money if you multiply that by the number families in the squatter areas. The number of families in squatter areas keeps growing everyday and could even go up further after the government’s subsidy announcement. According to the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council estimate, at the moment there are 550,771 squatter households in the country, over 90,000 of which are in Quezon City alone.

Asking the squatters to move out and clear the areas they are currently occupying – near riverbanks, under the bridges, along the railroad tracks and behind economic and exclusive residential zones, is easier said than done. Aside from professional squatters who try to cheat the system, there are squatters who keep returning to squat near the cities because they say there is no livelihood in the relocation sites. This is proof that the government’s relocation program is completely flawed and is not even working to decongest the country’s busiest districts.

To address this perennial problem, instead of spending too much money on relocation of the squatters, the government should allocate the funds to develop industries in other regions in the country to create jobs for the unemployed. This will encourage the squatters to move out on their own. At the moment, the country’s projects are too focused on developing infrastructure within the capital region. This naturally compels people to converge in the same areas to look for work.

Likewise, the squatter sympathizers who demand more dole-outs for the poor should give taxpayers a break. Using band-aid solutions cannot solve the squatter problem and will not break the cycle of poverty in the country. Giving money away in exchange for nothing is not going to help inspire the poor to achieve independence. It has been proven in the past that money that is earned through hard work is better appreciated than money received for free. In considering this, the government can also run an initiative by paying the poor only after they have provided some services to the community. This can be in the form of asking them to work for several hours a week cleaning up the environment or helping out in beautification projects in their local areas. That can make them appreciate and care for their surroundings in the long run. They can also develop life-long skills that they can use for future employment.

Those from the squatter areas who work menial jobs for the upper class are already given breaks by being allowed not to pay tax. Their situation is what is referred to as the underground economy that is unregulated. It may be a double-edged sword because they can be paid peanuts, but it is the result of the law of supply and demand.

It is wrong for some people to insist that the poor people in the squatter areas are the taxpayer’s responsibility. Not only is such a philosophy unsustainable, it is tantamount to going against nature. If one doesn’t have the right skill to survive in the city jungle, one should seek another jungle that is more appreciative of one’s abilities.


Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

Leave a Reply

47 Comments on "A sustainable solution to the squatter problem in the Philippines"

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
I have no clue, they just multiply like rabbits, they must be subsidized by powerful force that no one can subdued. How many decades have the powerful been pandering for their support? until the kilos of rice and sardines will not be enough? On the other hand I give credit to their ingenuity how they can turn a 3 sq. meter into a fad complete with kitchen, laundry, playroom tv and garden and ready armament with 16th century bolo or samurai sword in the front door for intruders. go go pinoys! if you can’t beat the elites and the oligark… Read more »
You’ve written a well-thought article, taking into consideration both opposing and sympathetic views on squatters. I agree that it is not the government’s responsibility to shoulder squatters’ relocation expenses. However, I would guess that there are some squatters, who if given opportunies, would succeed and no longer be part of the squatter community. What percentage of the community these candidates compromise is unknown, but similar to the welfare system of the U.S., there are many who leech off the system, making it a way of life, instead of leaning *temporarily* on a support sytem until they are able to become… Read more »

i would imagine NEO MANILA


i would imagine NEO MANILA, IN THE YEAR 2073.. TO be a highwalled/ skycraper walled megalopolis, with the elites inside with the trapings of life, while the 10billion masses live outside of it, in a post-apocalyptic madmax/ judge dred/ 5th element scenario, with high tech toys, instant flash foodz, and 20 member family each, with diffrent mutations, psychic abilites, and multilple belief, cult, group, clan system….while the other side is aN ORDERLY utopian city of gold and massive statues …. hehe just my 2 centaboz


…who will go to war of the RACEs on the year 2100, the prophesyd , envitable outcome, of the peasant vs landlordz warzzz…and only one family will be left to repopoulate the whole nation..the prophesyd family..hehe lolzz


There are solutions in the last paragraphs, for those who don’t bother to look.


Nice read, I like the way you focus on the taxpayers’ plight. Imo, the best way to eradicate squatting completely is making it a crime and persecuting offenders. Many may see it as inhumane but it needs to be done. Now, I kinda understand why Marcos made the martial law. Filipinos now have become the parasites in their own land and it needs to stop.

my 2cents 1. obviously one of the root causes for our problem is the structure of the government. why? because it supports mendicancy and collaborative corruption. change this form to parliamentary, and we can easily remove a failing branch. establish better visibility, and i think it’s high time that the elections be changed from popularity to merit. impose stricter regulations with government offices. if we had to take bar and board exams to qualify in our jobs, why shouldn’t they? the civil service exam can be passed by any competent high school student. these same people who handle our MANDATORY… Read more »
I used to lived in squatters’ area before in Tondo, and I must say people are contented; if you want to grow well gon on and if you don’t want, welcome to the club. IMO, aside from eduacation which is free in some of the cities here in Metro, TV networks should also provide good and motivating stories to share with, not those telenovelas which makes us (pinoy) so pathetic and helpless. News, also in the Philippines should discuss not only crimes but also the ability or how our officers handles the situation which are so perennial yearly. But sad… Read more »
Baptized w/o My Consent
Baptized w/o My Consent

Income deductions that benefit the squatters should be made optional. Let the squatter sympathizers support them on their own so they can feel the full effect of this virus they are trying to breed. Eventually these sympathizers will either “get real” or those hardcore ones will turn out to be squatters themselves. In any case, that’s not a pie I want a piece of.

Hey I’ve got an idea.. If these sympathizers want to be part of the solution then why not let the squatters live with them? Just a thought…


“Squatter sympathizers insist that it is the government’s sole responsibility to cater to the poor in the slums.”

General rule of thumb: What the State can do, private parties can do better.

Yeah, that’s all I’ll say with regards to the statement.


Lets borrow some nuclear rods from fukushima and drop it in the center with a radius just enough to cover their blight. Cordon off the area with high walls preferably concrete thick enough to withstand radiation. Let it sit for 6 months and afterwards remove the nuclear rods and decontaminate the area. Problem solved.


[…] The story is mainly that of a “country boy” seeking a better life in the city. We get to see the difficulties such people experience in urbanity. For example, Ramirez’s family gets a home to rent, but it turns out it belongs to someone else, so they get forced out. Makes you wonder if it really happens that way, and whether it’s meant to get sympathy for squatters. […]

juan de la cruz

Isn’t that people in the squatter area are consumers? Isn’t it that that they have to pay 12% VAT in every purchase or any expenses they have? Isn’t it that the labor force of the workers create the profit that goes to the capitalist? Isn’t it that the tax of the capitalist or business men are taken from the profit made by the workers? Then who pay the taxes? The one waiting or the one working?

hmmm.. i read the article but did not really see any concrete sustainable solution offered by the author. i’d say only about a third of the article offered a discussion about sustainable squatter solutions-the rest are just rants. the truth is, there is no quick and easy solution to this problem. i believe everyone agrees that this is a problem but no one really knows the parameters of the problem. no one knows because there is not enough data collected about this problem. every has there own solutions but i think what we need is to collect more data and… Read more »
Jess Gregorio

Squatting is a social problem. Development plans must be decentralized. Give rural areas a chance to develop their own industry. See a solution on the link below:



i completely agree with you. this article indeed is very informative,that is why i would like to recommend writing the same thought in our own language. para mas maintindihan nila. di yung puro dota. share natin.

Alex A.

This complex problem of squatting can be rooted from lack of job opportunities in the countryside. The government can not create real jobs, only the private sector can. However, the government is not allowed to fund private sector business that will create these jobs. This is the problem of the government, as it eludes the solution to this ‘disconnect’. This is one reason for the jobless growth we have.


I say we taxpayers should have a strong representative and pass a bill that will end to this bad system


I appreciate that you put thought and effort into this.
I agree with your conclusion that job creation is the best solution.
I think that my perception of your general perspective, which is that squatters are responsible for their predicament, reflects a poor understanding of the nature of poverty.
Your comment that “People from the squatter areas contributed significantly to the electing to office of public officials who are not really interested in uplifting the poor people’s conditions” is absurd.