Manila, Philippines – I have heard politicians e.g. local executives (of late MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino), and media personalities on foreign coverage as aside – cite the absence of street vagrants, squatters, garbage etc. in cities they visit or assigned to work. They speak of such phenomenon in surprise bordering on relief and amazement, coming from the urban development nightmare –congestion, dirt, grime, decaying façade – of Metro-Manila, replicated in other cities in the Philippines.
To the socialist /communist advocates, front & center on the issue of “informal settlers”, in China, citizens do not own the land they live in, only the house. Hence, anytime the State decides to demolish your “castle”, there are no two words to it. Resistance is met with a bulldozer and force beating down any resistance. Ambulant vendors or vagrants walking outside tourist areas are immediately accosted, (in my last trip) by 2 uniformed policemen and 5 agents literally, shoving & shouting, if not arresting them. Malaysia’a Putra Jaya, with a man-made lake, is a pristine government center sans all the “awa” (pity) political mistakes we replicate in our country.
During the time of Ferdinand Marcos, squatting was a crime. We need more than political will, but moral courage to revisit such measure (at least) to re-impose said penalty over “highly urbanized” cities. Relocation of informal settlers although very “Christian”, leads to a vicious cycle of trespass/recidivism, encouraging urban migration, and the collateral of “professional squatting” in hazardous areas, or what is too expensive real estate, albeit government property. And they do not pay taxes. Yet when calamities strike, they demand & overheat government services/finances. Why must public money be appropriated in what is funding a black hole entitlement for relocation of present & future informal settlers in Metro-Manila? Firstly, when they are removed, they must not be allowed to return, or face arrest? And no new construction allowed once the area is cleared. Or is multi-billion peso relocation program source for graft & corruption?