Archive for August 15, 2012


A slum, as defined by the United Nation agency UN-HABITAT, is a run-down area of a city characterized by substandard housing and squalor and lacking in tenure security. According to the United Nations, the percentage of urban dwellers living in slums decreased from a massive 47 percent to 37 percent in the developing world between 1990 and 2005.   

Many shanty town dwellers vigorously oppose the description of their communities as ‘slums’ arguing that this results in them being stigmatized and then, often, subject to threats of forcible evictions.  

Manila slums

In the wake of last week’s torrential rains and floors in the Metropolitan Manila area, the government announced

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo

plans to clear major waterways and other danger zones.  Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo was reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer to have said that shanties and other illegal structures along canals, creeks, esteros and other waterways will be dismantled so flood-mitigating systems could be built.

Robredo did not specify how the illegal structures will be dismantled.  He did not need to since everybody understood that if shanty dwellers opposed the demolition, then force can be used lawfully.

DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson is apparently clueless about this tacit language.   Singson made it very explicit and talked about “blasting” shanties and other obstructions.  For his crude “bedside manners,” Singson was blasted by urban poor groups.

With the backlash, Singson finessed his words time saying that he meant blasting illegal fish pens in the Pampanga river delta. 

Be that as it may, blasting is over-kill since most shanties are built of very-light materials’ of throwaways in fact.   Blasting could also lead to fatalities if the informal settlers resist the forcible demolition.

Demolition of illegal structures that obstruct the free flow of water is a technically correct solution to the perennial Metro-Manila floods.  While necessary, it is not enough however.  The 64-million dollar question: where will 100,000 informal settlers (or 100,000 families, Secretary Robredo?) be relocated?  

Robredo said the relocation will done over a five-year period with a funding of P10 billion. However, Robredo admitted that the government is having difficulty finding relocation areas since the law on relocations require permanent shelters.  These relocation sites must be within city limits so that the relocated informal settlers can still be near their means of livelihood.  As we discussed in earlier blog posts, if the relocation sites were too far, the informal settlers will drift back to the city center (See ‘Housing and the urban poor,’ [https://bongmendoza.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/housing-and-the-urban-poor/] and ‘Our irrational urban poor’ [https://bongmendoza.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/our-irrational-urban-poor/].

An additional requirement is the relocation sites to be free of floods.  In last week’s floods, almost a thousand families who were earlier relocated from Tondo to Rodriguez, Rizal had to be moved to higher ground.  Government officials will decide if the site is still tenable for residential purposes or should be abandoned.

Flood in Rodriguez, Rizal

In the Philippines, Republic Act No. 7279 or the Urban Development Housing Act of 1992 (UDHA), provides that certain lands owned by the government may be disposed of or utilized for socialized housing purposes. It was signed into law to address the housing shortage of the country.  It addresses the right to housing of the homeless and underprivileged Filipinos. This law seeks to provide social housing to the marginalized sector by addressing their access to land and housing, relocation, demolitions, and promoting private sector participation in housing.

Aside from clearing the waterways, perhaps the DPWH can help build the houses in the relocation sites.  In that way,  Secretary Singson can make up for his blast of a gaffe.


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De Lima accepts CJ nomination

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima just did the sour-graping gig.  She was excluded from the shortlist of candidates for the post of Supreme Court Chief Justice to replace impeached CJ Renato Corona.

The shortlist was submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council assigned by the Constitution for such a task.  The JBC did not cast a single vote for De Lima believing she was disqualified by three on-going disbarment cases against her being heard by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

De Lima’s response?  A bald assertion that the SC, JBC, and IBP were ganging up on her.  That she was being singled out by the three institutions.

 

 

Ganged up on her?  De Lima herself is an ex-officio JBC member but since she accepted the nomination as chief justice, she had to be replaced by Justice Department undersecretary Michael Musngi.  De Lima is Musngi’s boss but the latter did not vote for her as chief justice.  Rep. Niel Tupas, Jr., chief prosecutor against impeached chief justice Renato Corona and a key personality in the ruling Liberal Party also did not do so.  Thus, if there was any ganging up, her supposed allies participated in the ‘conspiracy’.

De Lima reacts to her disqualification

 

At best, De Lima cannot seem to understand that the choice of SC Chief Justice is bound by rules.  I guess she started believing the Palace’s spin that she was the strongest candidate.

She should realize that the main reason why President Noynoy is pushing her candidacy is a demonstrated readiness to obey the Palace’s bidding even at the expense of the law.  As a cabinet member, there is nothing wrong in doing the President’s bidding.  As a cabinet member, that is your job description.  It goes without saying that when following the President’s orders, one has to follow the law.  Or suffer the consequences.

 

 

 

Surely, you remember her defiance of Supreme Court-issued temporary restraining orders that could have allowed the departure of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for medical consultation abroad.

Former president Arroyo barred from leaving the country in late 2011

 

De Lima’s reason? Arroyo was a high flight risk.

Arroyo’s trip abroad last year was aborted.

At the time, de Lima may have believed that she was caught between a rock and a hard place.  And she decided to stop Arroyo’s departure in defiance of the Supreme Court.

However, the chickens have now come home to roost.  One cannot hope to be the chief  interpreter and enforcer of the law after defying it repeatedly.

What was Leila thinking?

But no; we know that Leila’s bid is at the behest of Pinoy.

President Noynoy and the embattled de Lima

What was he thinking?