WHAT is this? The Quezon City Council has proposed an ordinance declaring a moratorium on the eviction of squatters in the city “until there are enough relocation sites for affected families.” That means squatters from all over the Philippines, professional squatters or otherwise, will flock to Quezon City because here councilors coddle squatters. QC is already known as the “squatter capital of the Philippines.” It has the most number of squatters and it has the biggest squatter colonies. The new QC ordinance will make the city named after President Manuel Quezon the “squatter capital of the world.” I think this is the QC Council’s gimmick to gain entry to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Why are the councilors doing this? Simple. Next year is election year and squatters are voters. And politicians will do anything, even sell their own mothers, to get votes.
It won’t only be the squatters already in place who would vote for the councilors who passed the ordinance but also the new squatters from other parts of Metro Manila and the Philippines. So you see, the incumbent councilors would have the advantage over all other candidates because of the squatter votes. The ordinance, the councilors would say, is for humane considerations. But it is actually in aid of political considerations.
The presiding officer of the QC Council is Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista. Herbert is the heir apparent of Mayor Sonny Belmonte and is expected to be the next QC mayor, there being no announced aspirants except Rep. Mary Ann Susano of the second district. But if this is the way the QC Council is performing under him, then it bodes ill for the city. How can Herbert and the councilors have the temerity to ask the people of Quezon City to vote for them when they are selling them, the taxpayers, down the river?
The taxpayers, the homeowners and businessmen, have made QC the richest city in the Philippines, richer than Makati with its high-rise condos and even higher real estate prices. Thanks to these taxpayers, QC has more than P3 billion in the bank—and growing. Think of the commissions the grateful banks give to those who decide where to deposit the funds.
Where does the money go? The government spends it for the millions of squatters in the city who do not pay taxes at all. And for the councilors. Those useless tarpaulins polluting the city, greeting GMA and INC Bishop Eraño Manalo happy birthday, congratulating graduating students, wishing “happy valentine” and “happy fiesta” to nobody in particular—they were all paid with the taxes you paid. And all for what? To remind the voters of the names and faces of the councilors.
Those basketball courts and pool halls in the squatter colonies—they were paid with your money. Those concrete semi-arches with the names of the councilors etched in stone like the Ten Commandments at the boundaries of each barangay—they were paid with your taxes. Those unnecessary waiting sheds (unnecessary because the Metro Manila Development Authority is already putting up better waiting sheds) with the names of councilors painted in big bold letters on them—they were all paid with your taxes.
What do you, the taxpayers, get in return for the taxes you pay? Nothing. You would expect the city government to at least help you reclaim your property from the squatters because you are a taxpayer and they are not. (They use up your taxes instead.) But does the city government help you? Are you kidding? I have been trying to get the QC government to recover my lot from squatters since the time of Mayor Adelina Rodriguez. Did any of the mayors help? Ha ha ha. If they did, why are the squatters still there and I am still here looking from the outside?
What do the councilors do to help the homeowners? Help the homeowners? On the contrary, they pass ordinances increasing the real estate taxes for lots squatted on. The owners pay those taxes, not the squatters who use the lots. They may pass more ordinances prohibiting the ejectment of squatters.
Can the councilors pass an ordinance overturning the rights of ownership? Can the council prevent lot owners from ejecting squatters from their properties by the mere passage of an ordinance? Can the council prevent the city government or the MMDA from performing their duties of ejecting squatters and restoring law and order? Of course they cannot, but why do they try to block the enforcement of laws? Because of votes.
When there is a squatter demolition in any part of the metropolis, who are the first to show up to stop the law enforcers from doing their duty? The councilors—and the congressmen, especially Rep. Bingbong Crisologo. They will berate the law enforcers and play up to the squatters, not realizing that they are actually guilty of obstruction of justice. Because of votes. Votes are actually more powerful than the law or justice. Politicians will beg, steal or borrow, sell their own mothers and violate the laws in exchange for votes.
What can we taxpayers do? Well, aside from a tax revolt, the best way is the ballot. Do not vote for the squatter coddlers. If a councilor or congressman tries to stop a demolition, remember his name and don’t vote for him in next year’s election. Vote for his rival, whoever he is, so long as he is not a squatter coddler himself. Don’t vote for the politicians whose tarpaulins you see polluting the city. They are stealing your taxes to pay for those tarpaulins. Don’t vote for politicians whose names you see painted on waiting sheds. They did not pay for those waiting sheds. You did. Don’t vote for politicians whose names you see on the backboards of basketball goals erected in the middle of streets so that squatters can play basketball, instead of working, and preventing the public from using the street.
Don’t vote for squatter coddlers. By the way, the author of the proposed ordinance granting a moratorium on the eviction of squatters is Councilor Bernadette Herrera-Dy.
By Neal Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:16:00 02/02/2009