Squatting Here & There; (Editor's Note: Squatters Have Delayed the Timetable of the North Rail Project. in Metro Manila, the Problem Clearly Seems beyond Solution Cited in This Article.)

Manila Bulletin, September 28, 2004 | Go to article overview

Squatting Here & There; (Editor's Note: Squatters Have Delayed the Timetable of the North Rail Project. in Metro Manila, the Problem Clearly Seems beyond Solution Cited in This Article.)


IN previous articles, I referred to a serious problem blocking the way of the North Rail project the riles residents by the tens of thousands will not leave "their homes" without a fight.

Army of squatters

One Palace adviser puts it this way as reported: The PNR property up to Norzagaray town (Bulacan) has a squatter population of 83,000 families. One family in the poverty belt has more than five members.

If we limit one family to five members, PNRs successor has to deal with 415,000 poor Filipinos up to Norzagaray town only. But this project will not stop in Bulacan, but will continue through Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, and La Union.

Squatters as owners

Even in our wildest imagination, its doubly difficult to get an accurate count of the squatter families to be affected by relocation from Manila to the northern provinces. In this country squatting on public/private land has been tolerated for decades and confers on squatting a "right" equivalent to ownership.

P6-B loan

According to Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) officers, they have "asked the Palace to reconsider or withdraw a new loan of R6 billion giving a Chinese company full control over the North Rail project."

Delay and bloody relocation

The businessmens group cited a better offer from a South Korean firm as the most modern and a lot cheaper. They describe the problem of relocating squatter families as "bloody." They noted the governments failure to provide livelihood and other basic needs in relocation zones.

In RP we find it consistent with our inferior political and social tradition to publicly announce that a certain project will be completed immediately meaning in a few years that could stretch to 10 years. But boasting is also part of our culture and people accept it like accepting money in exchange for their right to vote freely.

More money for relocation

So here we are trying our level best to wrestle with a million squatters along the riles before we can lay the first new rail on a crossbeam to replace a transport system built in the 1890s.

Relocating squatter families is now the biggest and heaviest burden of the North Rail project. Starting the project without dealing first with the squatter problem is a waste of human and financial resources.

No. 1 problem in Metro Manila

What the North Rail project now stares in the face will eventually overwhelm flood control and right-of-way projects in Metro Manila, especially in Manila, Pasay, Quezon City, Caloocan, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Pasig, and Paranaque. …

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