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Biased Eviction Plan Hit

MANTAHAN, MAASIN CITY – The squatters occupying public land along the seashore fronting the city’s cemetery are in a quandary. They have been given two months to vacate their homes by the Department of Public Works and Highways provincial office to make way for its road widening project.

Old time residents there told SLT they had nowhere else to go and their livelihood hinged on their earnings from selling flowers, candles, soft drinks and snacks to mourners. Some also earn a living by cleaning the tombs of rich people who have moved to other provinces.

“Bakit kami lang ang pa-aalisin para ma iwadin ang road’ hindi ba dapat isama yung malalaking bahay sa Mantahan at Abgao?” Lamented a 58 year old sari-sari store owner selling candles, soft drinks, and canned goods. “Twenty-nine lang po ako noong lumipat kami dito.”

When I asked where they would be relocated he said there was no mention of this by DPWH. He said there were reports that Mayor Maloney Samaco would be meeting with their leaders this week. Other residents there claimed they were paying tax on the property annually. A total of 30 houses will be demolished this coming January unless the residents there dismantled their houses themselves.  

Squatting is a big problem in the country and in Manila an estimated 21 percent of the people there are squatting on public and private property. This problem was addressed in 1975 by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos who issued Presidential Decree 772 which “criminalized” squatting.

The law was repealed however in 1997 by Republic Act 8368 and now only “professional Squatters” are considered illegal. Evicting squatters is once again an emotionally draining and cumbersome process. One must first obtain a court order and there after would have to attend to physically evicting the squatters themselves.

Public administrators believe that small illegal acts  which are condoned by  the government eventually  pile-up and viola - you have problems like the one we now have in the city. (By ANTHONY KINGS)





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