Now it’s the
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
The move of Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo to place in the hands of barangay officials the problem of informal settlers, most commonly known as squatters, is a very sound one that should help local government units greatly in solving this nagging urban problem.
The problem of squatters, now designated the euphemistic title of “informal settlers,” probably in deference to their sensitivities, has long been festering in almost every city of the country. The bigger or more progressive the cities are, the bigger and more problematic the squatter problem also becomes. These impoverished people, who have no means of livelihood in their own towns or barangays and puroks, often move to the urban centers in the hope of improving their lives.
Having no lots or areas to live in, most of them settle in unoccupied or vacant lots where they put up makeshift shanties, build improvised stalls on sidewalks and canals, or even under bridges where they expose their lives to the greatest dangers.
As stated in the memorandum Robredo issued to the barangay officials, the squatter problem should now be the primary responsibility of the barangays led by the barangay captain and his council. In this, they will have the support of the governors and mayors who can help them with the relocation aspect of their tasks.
For certainly, no other official can have better control, or monitoring capabilities as far as informal settlers in their places are concerned. They are the ones who know and recognize, as well as have records on who are the actual members of their barangay. Any new dwellers who are unknown to them and are not registered in the barangay should therefore be discouraged, or assisted to find locations where they can settle, find livelihoods, and become worthy members of a community.
Barangay officials today have more responsibilities and authority than the post ever had, and, also, they have now better compensation, unlike before when the titles were only honorific. The government, and the bona fide residents of their barangays, therefore, are entitled to, and have a right to expect from them compliance with the laws, and, in effect, better services.*