MANILA, Philippines -- The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA)-led agency on informal settlers will have more teeth in dealing with squatting once the Department of Justice (DoJ) becomes its prosecutorial arm against squatters.
?When everything is finalized, it will be the DoJ, through its provincial, municipal and city prosecutor's offices, which will handle the prosecution of the illegal squatters,? MMDA Chair Oscar Inocentes said in a statement on Wednesday.
The DoJ?s participation is included in the Implementing Rules and Regulation recently approved by the Metro Manila Inter-Agency Committee on Informal Settlers (MMIAC) that would govern the implementation of the Comprehensive Shelter Program in the National Capital Region,
He said some local government units have been lax in going after illegal squatters since local politicians relied on vote-rich colonies of informal settlers during elections.
Instead of the local government units, he said, the DoJ would be the one to pursue the filing of charges against professional squatters or squatting syndicates. The MMDA defines professional squatters and squatting syndicates as individuals and groups with sufficient income for housing but still occupy lands without the consent of the landowners.
The IRR framework of the MMIAC was finalized by its members including the MMDA, the National Housing Authority and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council on Feb. 26.
?This way, we will be able to deal with squatters effectively and swiftly and move forward towards providing housing for qualified beneficiaries,? Inocentes said.
The MMIAC, the number of informal settlers in 2009 ballooned to 517,175 families based on the submitted list by 13 out of 17 local governments in Metro Manila.
Of the 517, 175 informal settlers, the biggest chunk, 232, 123 families were from government owned lands, 173, 536 families from private-owned lands, 81, 628 families from danger areas, 16, 890 from areas for priority development, and 11, 866 families from areas affected by government priority projects.
The figure could swell beyond the 2007 figure of 544, 609 families once the updated figures from Pateros, Mandaluyong, Marikina and Paranaque, are in.