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Squatting in the Philippines

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Country marked in green on map
Philippines on globe
Shack beside bridge
A squatter settlement in Manila in 2007
Shanty town beside rubbish dump
Shacks at Payatas dumpsite in 2010

Squatting in the Philippines occurred after World War II when people built makeshift houses called "barong-barong". Urban areas such as Metro Manila and Metro Davao have large informal settlements. The Philippine Statistics Authority has defined a squatter, or alternatively "informal dwellers", as "One who settles on the land of another without title or right or without the owner's consent whether in urban or rural areas".[1] President Ferdinand Marcos criminalized squatting in 1975 with a decree that was annulled in 1997. Squatting is now criminalized by the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (RA 7279), also known as the Lina Law. There have been various attempts to regularize squatter settlements, such as the Zonal Improvement Program and the Community Mortgage Program. In 2018, the Philippine Statistics Authority estimated that out of the country's population of about 106 million, 4.5 million are homeless.


The Philippine Statistics Authority has defined a squatter as "One who settles on the land of another without title or right or without the owner's consent whether in urban or rural areas".[1] Local media and journalists refer to squatters as "informal settlers."[2][3]

After World War II, many people were left homeless in the Philippines and they built makeshift houses called "barong-barong" on abandoned private land.[4] In Davao City, there was a scramble for land previously owned by Japanese people and these occupations were legalized in the 1950s by the government. By 1968, there were an estimated 75,000 squatters living in informal settlements and innercity slums.[5] At the Port of Manila, land was reclaimed in the 1950s at Tondo and quickly occupied by squatters. By 1968, there were over 20,000 households in the informal settlement.[6] Elsewhere in Manila, parks and military land were occupied.[6] The Zone One Tondo Organization (ZOTO) was set up in 1970 to represent squatter interests in Tondo and campaign for land rights.[7] It inspired other groups and the Ugnayan ng Maralitang Tagalunsod (UMT) was founded in 1976 to campaign for squatters on a national scale.[7] The first mass eviction on record in Manila was in 1951 and the largest took place in late 1963 and early 1964 when 90,000 people were displaced.[8]: 43  By 1978, there were estimated to be two million squatters in Manila, occupying 415 different locations.[8]: 77 

President Ferdinand Marcos announced martial law in December 1972 and by 1975 he had introduced a law criminalizing squatting in an attempt to stop the expansion of informal settlements.[7][9] In 1982, Imelda Marcos commented on "professional squatters [...] plain land-grabbers taking advantage of the compassionate society".[8]: 46  The government attempted to resettle the squatters elsewhere, only for the squatters to return to their homes which were near where they worked, so the Zonal Improvement Program (ZIP) was started in the late 1970s. Slums were then upgraded in situ: The occupations were regularized and supplied with sanitation and electricity.[7][10] There were squatters at the U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay and the Clark Air Base in the 1980s.[11] In this time, the government began to forcibly resettle squatters again, moving them to places such as Bagong Silang, Caloocan and Payatas in Metro Manila. Resistance to evictions fed into the opposition to the Marcos dictatorship and resulted in the 1986 People Power Revolution.[7]

The Community Mortgage Program was set up in 1992, aiming to help low-income families transition from squatting to affordable housing. By 2001, around 106,000 families had found secure housing in over 800 separate communities.[12]: 54  In 1993, slums in Metro Manila were estimated to contain 2.39 million people, or 30.5 per cent of the area's total population and 706,185 people had been assisted by the ZIP.[10] Impoverished squatters lived on landfill sites such as Smokey Mountain and Payatas dumpsite, working as scavengers.[13][14]


Homelessness is a pressing issue for the Philippines, where a significant segment of the population remains homeless.[15] Of the country's population of about 106 million, an estimated 4.5 million are homeless according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.[16] Causes of homelessness have been attributed to poverty and destruction of homes due to natural calamities[17] and climate change.[18] The Philippine Climate Change Commission has noted the worldwide issue of inadequate housing, indicating the need for government to cooperate with stakeholders to provide affordable housing to all.[18]

The Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay, or Federation of Mutual Aid for the Poor) carried out the Pandi housing project occupation in March 2017. The occupation of over 5,000 housing units built by the National Housing Authority (Philippines) in Bulacan was at first condemned by President Rodrigo Duterte and then regularized.[19][20] Duterte warned Kadamay not to carry out any more occupations, but the group pledged to do so and attempted to squat National Housing Authority property in Rodriguez, Rizal the following year.[21]


The Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (RA 7279), also known as the Lina Law after its proponent Joey Lina, criminalized squatting yet discouraged evictions except in certain cases, such as when it was carried out by "professional squatters and squatting syndicates".[22][23] The Marcos decree criminalizing squatting was annulled by the Anti-Squatting Law Repeal Act of 1997 (RA 8368).[9]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Squatter (or informal dwellers)". Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  2. ^ "From 'Squatters' Into 'Informal Settlers'". Philippine Human Rights Information Center. Pinyahan, Quezon City. 6 September 2014. Archived from the original on 23 November 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  3. ^ Shahani, Lila Ramos (10 April 2012). "Manila's biggest challenge". Views. Rappler. Oranbo, Pasig. Archived from the original on 1 March 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Manila: National capital, Philippines". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  5. ^ Feldman, Kerry (1975). "Squatter Migration Dynamics in Davao City, Philippines". Urban Anthropology. 4 (2): 123–144. ISSN 0363-2024. JSTOR 40552681.
  6. ^ a b Jackson, J. C. (1974). "Urban Squatters in Southeast Asia". Geography. 59 (1): 24–30. ISSN 0016-7487. JSTOR 41414282.
  7. ^ a b c d e Karaos, Anna Marie A. (1993). "Manila's Squatter Movement: A Struggle for Place and Identity". Philippine Sociological Review. 41 (1/4): 71–91. ISSN 0031-7810. JSTOR 23898158.
  8. ^ a b c Hardoy, Jorge Enrique; Satterthwaite, David (1989). Squatter citizen: Life in the urban third world. London: Earthscan. ISBN 9781853830204.
  9. ^ a b "REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8368 AN ACT REPEALING PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 772, ENTITLED 'PENALIZING SQUATTING AND OTHER SIMILAR ACTS" (PDF). Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC). Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  10. ^ a b Aiga, Hirotsugu; Umenai, Takusei (1 August 2002). "Impact of improvement of water supply on household economy in a squatter area of Manila". Social Science & Medicine. 55 (4): 627–641. doi:10.1016/S0277-9536(01)00192-7. ISSN 0277-9536. PMID 12188468.
  11. ^ The DISAM Journal of International Security Assistance Management. DISAM. 1988. p. 60.
  12. ^ Mitlin, Diana; Satterthwaite, David (2004). Empowering squatter citizen: Local government, civil society, and urban poverty reduction. London: Earthscan. ISBN 9781844071012.
  13. ^ Comerford, Mike. ""It breaks your heart"". Daily Herald. Archived from the original on 2007. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  14. ^ Peña, Rox (24 August 2017). "Peña: Payatas landfill is permanently closed". Sunstar. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  15. ^ Fealtman, Erica (24 July 2020). "The Impact of COVID-19 on Homelessness in the Philippines". Borgen Magazine. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  16. ^ Chandran, Rina (28 March 2018). "Manila's homeless set to move into more empty homes if official handover delayed". Reuters. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  17. ^ Ellao, Janess Ann J. (16 March 2021). "A year since lockdown, the poor struggles against homelessness". Bulatlat. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  18. ^ a b "CCC on World Habitat Day: Enable Sustainable and Climate-Adaptive Systems for Housing Sector". Climate Change Commission. 5 October 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  19. ^ Vibar, Ivy Jean (4 April 2017). "Duterte lets Kadamay have Bulacan homes". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  20. ^ Umil, Anne Marxze (14 March 2017). "Urban poor group vows to continue barricade in gov't housing projects". Bulatlat. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  21. ^ Dulay, Atty. Dodo (19 June 2018). "Restore anti-squatting law to thwart Kadamay gangsterism". The Manila Times. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  22. ^ Dizon, David (1 September 2011). "Lina clarifies misconceptions about 'Lina Law'". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
This page was last edited on 19 October 2021, at 03:24
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