Have you ever gone inside a squatter colony ? I have ! It is humanity living in a sewer, above, along, beside, below, living in hovels built from disgarded fragments of rotted coco lumber, broken furniture, torn filthy tarps, rusted nails, low cellings, and often stacked 3 to 4 floors high. Dirt floors, repressive heat, sickness, TB, rotted teeth, dysentery, unwanted pregnancy, criminality, open fires, illegal electrical hookups, no fire route access or escape plan, none of the occupants ever paying taxes. Sweaty Babies with snotty noses, children covered in dirt, dressed in rags, everyone peeing almost anywhere, crapping in plastic bags, one tap for 30 or more families. People sleeping on mats, lined up often like sardines, with the rats, cockroaches, unimaginable strenches wafting from every direction. Walkways 18 inches wide, the sounds of voices, crying, wailing, laughing, screaming, as if you just woke up liviing inside a Fellini movie complete with dwarfs and disfigured would wandering around. It is sad to see, (but) with the inhabitants amazingly cheerful, and quite pleased it would seem, with the entire arrangement.
Of course, much of the time the squatters are simply tolerated by the true land owner who pays the property taxes, has title to the property but faces huge challenges to reclaim what is in fact owned. Evicting the squatters is rarely possible without resorting to costly and lengthy legal remedy that through delaying tactics can take 10 or 15 years to resolve.
In the Philippines where the Judiciary is broken, impunity rules, and discipline doesn’t exist, the problem simply exacerbates itself, with the Government lacking the will or the intention to fix any of the country’s ills.
The squatter problem is a good example of why the Philippines can never really move away from its 3rd world status. As long as the right of ownership cannot be exercised over the so called rights of squatters who in modern society should only have extremely limited rights, expect little in the Philippines to truly change. It is a country that has a hopeless future unless overdue reforms can get a foothold. Looking at the Political landscape, it really does not look even remotely encouraging.