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.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

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?

44 Replies to “It’s about time the Philippine government blasts squatters out of the water”

  1. 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.

    1. “Support the president always!”
      Hell no, we wont do that. Why would we support someone that is clearly INCOMPETENT???

      “He knows what to do.”
      Since when??? If he always knew what to do then why is there still parts of luzon still submerged in floods? Why did he allow hong kong nationals to DIE? Why did he get caught partying while people were dying in CDO? Why does he continue to protect his KKK? And why the F*CK should we listen to YOU?

      “Unlike Gloria, a weak leader, never had that will to get rid of informal settlers because she got her cheated vote from them.”

      Again with the whole “I hate gloria” spiel. You as usual, can’t support your claims, and as usual you shut up whenever we destroy your stupid conspiracy theories.

      Grow a brain FCUKTARD

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

      1. Fishball, do you actually think or repeat what ever is in today’s memo from the Minister of Propaganda? Again, I am glad you are safe , you are an annoying zombie but I will never wish you harm. Ingat sa pauwi from the Palace.

      2. CCT??? Goodness that’s the TAXPAYER’S sweat and blood being doled out to people who barely wanna help themselves!
        It is intact??? FINE! Give us the ledger and let the middle class be the judge!

        Ako ba pag nabaha at mawalan ng tahanan o mahal sa buhay e may makukuha ng tulong pinanasyal na walang interest???

        You’re continued defense of the current admins “projects” is NAKAKASUKA!

  3. 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 government has been a part of the systemic problem of the squatters. Furthermore, the government should not simply treat these people as vermin to be exterminated. They are citizens and still have rights.

    The government should relocate them to a resettlement area and coordinate with NGOs to ensure that human rights remain intact. Meanwhile the NGOs will provide education and vocational training for these homeless people to help ensure that they reintegrate into society in a successful fashion.

    1. Does that make it any mpre right than it is wrong? Does living in the same dwelling that your forefathers have built, albeit be it on a piece of land that they know they do not own in the first place, gives them a license to usurp that property?

      Informal settlers in this country are indeed lucky. We have enacted laws that makes squatting in the Philippines lucrative. Imagine having a piece of prime real property in Metro Manila without having to work for it, while most Pinoys have to work hard just to buy their own dwellings outside the city? What makes these informal settlers so special that even local politicians coddle them when they should have been driven out and not allowed to proliferate like muschrooms in the first place?

      Only in the Pinas talaga!!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

    1. There was a program by pnoy gov’t where squatters are supposed to be relocated to the countryside and plant kamote (sweet potatoes).

      No idea what happened to that one.

      1. It sounds like a joke and no one took it seriously. Another crop would’ve sounded better.

        Unfortunately, farming, while a noble vocation, will not catch the attention of lazy folk as it’s equated with hard labor and low income.

    2. Hindi na bago ang ginagawa nang mga illegal settlers na binebenta ang bahay at bumabalik sa dati nilang tinitirhan.

      Problema din kasi minsan ay ang mga illegal settlers na ito. Karamihan sa kanila ay tamad at minsan naman gusto nila kaagad na malaking kita. Hindi lang sapat na bigyan sila ng trabaho, dapat din silang gabayan sa tamang pamumuhay.

    3. I think unless the owners of the land makes a move, they couldn’t prevent those informal settlers from coming back.

      Question though, PNR, how they managed to remove the squatters in their tracks and keep them out?

  6. 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.

    1. Somebody from the squatters area dumped trash in front of a boat …

      where MMDA chairman Tolentino and Ted Failon are currently on board.

    2. the really bad floods were due to the dam waters, managed by dam administrators.
      lubog tayo dahil sa ganid na mga negosyante at rent seeking nila lopez, ayala, tan, sy, et al. dahil sa rent seeking nila Lopez( An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines. Edited by Alfred W. Mccoy. Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Madison, 1993. Pp. x, 541; nasa langit na cost ng kuryente, lumayas na mga pangunahing industria dahil hindi maka compete ang power rate natin.

      ngayon pati tubig kinartel na.. dapat tanggalin ang cartel ng maynilad,manila water. ibalik sa publiko ang public utility. dati namang mayari pa ang govt di naman nakakamatay ang floods kasi di iniipon up to 99% capacity ang ating mga dams nung time ng ondoy. sing ganid ng mga congressmen ang mga administrators ng mwsi at ng mga dams na sumusweldo na pa bogus sa mga maynilad at manila water!

      nung ondoy 1 oras lang umulan, abot na ng 3rd floor ang tubig ng dams sa marikina, fairview, pasig areas. 2nd floor sa QC araneta, at mga katabing mga lugar. ang direct hit ay ang butcher ng 100,000 mga tao ng marikina,pasig,fairview area nang dahil sa surge ng dam water. after ondoy, thousands truckloads ang mga namatay na inaalis sa providence village at marikina area. ngunit pina news blackout ni GMA, not to mention hundreds who were instanltly drowned in the basement of SM STA MESA, ITOy pina news blackout din ng SM at sumunod ang mga habagat na ito kung saang billion billion din ang nawalan sa mga tao

      para tuloytuloy ang tubig ng mga water concessionaires at tuloy tuloy ang mga pa sweldo nila hinahayaan ng mga administrators na ito na umaabot sa 99% spill level ang mga dams bago sila mag release ng tubig KAYA ITO ANG DAMING NAMATAY NUNG ONDOY AT MGA NAWALANG PROPERTIES BILLION BILLION KAYA !


      pano kasi mwss was privatized into maynilad and manila. both are sharks who pass all expenses including taxes ,golf games, charitable donations to consumers

      still lopez greed knew no limits, after leaving maynilad in huge when rafael alunan was ceo under lopez board, made bucks transfering management to fellow shark mvp

      c badeng naman ay gahaman at milking consumers charging ever rising fees for water
      and bribing mwsi admin to keep water flowing at cost of national disasters ondoy, habagats)

      baka trillion na ang national loss, combine butcher of ondoy(100,000 vehicles, homes lost, farms, warehouses went under water, merchnadises, goods, foods, sacks of rice, LOST TO FLOOD WATER, not including lives all taken by surprise , by the sudden onslaught of all dams releasing water all at once LIKE A TSUNAMI, OUR KASAMA WAS IN A MARIKINA VILLAGE 2nd floor AT THE TIME SHE SWEARS by her anscetors that everyone in the first floors were wiped out/killed by the surge, obviously the wave was higher than 3meters , pwedeng 4meters pataas

      at mga habagat:
      august2012 , 1 week of dam water from ipo, la mesa, angat, all the others flowing thru streets of MM into manila bay (perish of perishable goods,loss of work/productivity).
      worst affected areas : Bulacan, malabon, navotas, marikina, pasig, QC, parts ng manila

      august 2013, 3-4 working days nawala muli dahil sa flooding gawa ng pakawala ng dam water again thru streets ng M.M. abot 2nd floor marikina , pasig, 1st floor araneta qc areas, 1 floor high in malabon, valenzuela, caloocan, bulacan ( mga lugar na apektado ), Manila city areas thigh high

      september 21-23,2013 odette nagdala ng 2 araw habagat at ng pinaka malalakas at pinakamaraming ulan ngunit ang mga baha ay mabababa lang.


      all the loss of lives, homes, properties, manhours, inconvenience and loss to 20-30million people of central luzon and MM because them admins want to keep water always flowing for their two MASTERS’ benefit and profit

      traditionally dam waters were kept at safer levels (40-60%full) to avoid torrential rains that may necessitate release of dam waters, recall 80’s-early 90’s (never heard dams had to release water in panic even during rainy seasons when heavy rain pours everyday for hours to rival the intensity of the habagats )
      they released excess water(whatever above safety limit) at nights and done over days so the effects were not even felt by general public

      sobra bang hirap gawin ang tama?

      they had to earn their billions (2 concessionaires) and their tens of milions(admins),at the cost of national trillion/s(?)

      is our national and collective interest worth manure for these people
      la bang liability mga admin ng mwsi sa mga salot dinala nila sa lipunan?

      yet few people noticed nor blew whistle on this evil triad

      wala ba katarungan at kabayaran sa gross abuse and sabotage of national economy?

  7. 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 =))

  8. [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….

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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. The Aquinos used these Squatters, during their EDSA uprising, as “Hakot” demonstrators…

  12. Squatter colonies are kind of like low-maintenance vote farms. Just make some public land available and squatter colonies start sprouting up from it the same way mold rings and bacteria spores start appearing on a petridish left out to incubate.

    Harvest time is during elections. Politicians reap easy votes from the squatters that had infested these public lands that had been deliberately left vulnerable to their infestation. Winners ultimately are said politicians who come across as heaping with “generosity” while conveniently forgetting that they had, in fact, been entrusted by tax-paying residents of Manila to ensure productive use of these public lands.

    The chumps, as always, are Filipinos overall. That is why Filipinos deserve each other. 😀

      1. Less pocketing of government funds through kickbacks, etc, and the strongest political will would’ve created many resettlement areas for hundreds of thousands of informal settlers. High rises for informal settlers like condominium units would be a better option than the flat ones that were swamped by floods as seen on tv just recently. We do have the funds, but often they are misused and probably used to buy Hermes bags, huge homes, Rolex watches and the like.

  13. 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 polical system in the Philippines is as compared to the squatter zones. Definitely, it will take time and money to finally relocate and get rid of these informal settlers, only someone who have the political will can do.

  14. 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?

    1. Take the squatter population and place them in the agricultural sector. Really, we seriously need to be a self-sufficient country. Agriculture and use of natural resources would make a strong backbone for a developing country.
      We have enough smart people, we just need more hard-working ones.

  15. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.