Settling the Informally Settled
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This is just one of the many informal settlements in Metro Manila. This is where the informal settlers are situated temporarily in order for them to have a place they can call “home”. Aling Corazon, who lives in this poor community for more than 30 years now, asks help from the government to award the land to them since they cannot afford to buy their own house.
The issue of informal settling by the urban poor is nothing new in the Philippines, especially in Metro Manila. It is in fact, considered a huge social and economic problem which should be addressed by the Philippine Government. While some families may have benefitted from the assistance of the government, the same cannot be said about the thousands more across the country. Over the years, informal settling in urban spaces has unfortunately remained a rampant issue in the Philippines.
According to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), there were already 2.8 million informal settlers, equivalent to approximately 556,526 families around Metro Manila in 2010. So far, the National Housing Authority (NHA) has an estimate of 1.5 M informal settler families (ISFs) across the Philippines, 40% of which are situated in Metro Manila.
To address this problem, the government has initiated various programs for informal settlers. These include the Land Tenure Assistance Program (LTAP) and the Community Mortgage Program (CMP) spearheaded by the NHA and the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC). Under the LTAP, informal settlers are provided with financial credits to acquire land and build a house. The land titles are only given to organized community associations who have been occupying the land to be given. On the other hand, the CMP, much like the LTAP, also extends mortgage loans to informal settlers. In addition to this, the government has already made a bill for these informal settlers since they too have rights.
According to Republic Act No. 7279, or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, individuals or groups who occupy land without the express consent of the landowner, while having sufficient income for legitimate housing are regarded as “professional squatters.” It is stipulated in Section 2 of RA 7279 that this law must uplift the conditions of the underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban areas and in resettlement areas by making available to them decent housing at affordable cost, basic services, and employment opportunities. Despite these efforts, the number of informal settlers in the Philippines continues to fluctuate due to susceptibility to natural disasters and high risks for conflict and violence.
We, the students of St. Scholastica's Academy Marikina, believe that we should be doing our part in helping and encouraging the urban poor to rise from their situation by promoting this petition. Please sign our petition asking our representatives in Congress and other government officials to help the informal settlers in having their own shelter so that permanent homes can be made available to them and so that they could have hope in making their lives a better one.
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