As long as the squatters remain where they are and are allowed to flourish, the Philippines will not reach its full potential as a business hub that finds favor in the eyes of foreign investors. No amount of volunteer cleanup initiatives will fix this underlying problem.
Squatters indiscriminately dump waste onto Manila’s waterways. In other words, the activities of the people squatting are foul. They have no concern or respect for the rights or property of others and have total disregard for the environment and welfare of other people.
Unfortunately, asking the squatters to move out and clear the areas they are currently occupying – near riverbanks, under the bridges, along the railroad tracks and behind economic and exclusive residential zones, is easier said than done. Aside from professional squatters who try to cheat the system, there are squatters who keep returning to squat near the cities because they say there is no livelihood in the relocation sites.
In short, it is evident that the problem of squatters in the Philippines cannot be solved by invoking ‘humanitarian’ appeal. The problem with the way things are done in the Philippines is that small misdemeanors get routinely tolerated. And then more and more of them get tolerated until the pile of little misdemeanors gets bigger and bigger.
Squatting is a huge social and economic problem in the Philippines, more so because squatters are protected by laws that make it difficult to remove them from properties they infest. The solution is clear. The rules must be enforced from the start and consistently applied to all. Squatters should not be exceptions.