Duterte blasts professional squatters; Equitable land distribution pushed

Published July 9, 2021, 11:52 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte does not like one bit the professional squatters in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo/Malacañang)

The President said he has compassion for the poor and the oppressed but resented the professional squatters who prey on other informal settlers. These professional squatters make the “loudest noise” and yet illegal occupy the biggest portion of a place, according to the President.

“Usually itong mga professional squatters, I do not like them and they cannot do it to me. You cannot claim any portion larger than the others. Kung anong maibigay na square meters, ‘yon lang rin ang iyo (The square meters given to you should be the only ones yours) but you have to enforce it,” Duterte said during a meeting with PDP-Laban party leaders Tuesday.

Duterte claimed that professional squatters were “easy to spot,” saying they speak well like a “crusader.” “They make the loudest noise and when it comes now to the subdividing the place, they claim a — for them a portion bigger than the others,” he said.

Under Republic Act No. 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act, concerned government agencies are directed to adopt measure to curtail the illegal activities of professional squatters and squatting syndicates. The law allows the eviction of these professional syndicates and demolition of their dwellings. They will also be disqualified to avail of the benefits of the state housing program.

The country’s law defines professional squatters as individuals or groups who illegally occupy lands despite having income for legitimate housing. The term is also applied to person awarded government house but sold, leased or transferred the same and settled illegal in the same place or in another place.

As he frowned on the activities of professional squatters, the President insisted there should be equitable distribution of public lands for housing.

“Just divide it equally so that because there are ano — maraming mga Pilipinong walang lupa (many Filipinos have no lands),” he said. “You cannot squat one hectare while the others are crowded into a one-fourth hectare na sila-sila lang (on their own),” he added.

To people seeking to reclaim their lands from squatters, the President offered to help facilitate the relocation of the informal settlers.

Duterte, who objected to demolition of houses without resettlement, said he would try to convince the squatters to move out of the occupied area.

“There are many cases of itong demolition. Ganito na lang, if you are the owner of the house and you want to develop it into a commercial something and tanungin kita how much do you intend to pour into the project and if you say it’s about 50 thou — 50 million, then you can add another 50 just to skip the rigors of trouble and, you know, ako na ang bahala (I’ll take care of the rest),” he said.

“Bigyan ninyo ng kaunting — kaunting, munting lupa lang na matirahan at ako na ang makiusap sa tao. I will take care of, you know, convincing them of the righteousness of your claim kasi a squatter is a squatter is a squatter. Huwag na natin dadramahin pa. Pero nakakaawa. Nakakaawa — nakakaawa talaga (I really pity them),” he said.