QC council passes ordinance for eviction of ‘professional squatters’
MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City council has passed on third and final reading an ordinance directing barangay (village) officials and a local agency to summarily evict persons, particularly members of professional squatting syndicates, illegally building structures on public and privately owned lots.
In last Friday’s special session of the city council, the aldermen approved the measure authored by 2nd district councilor Ranulfo Ludovica who emphasized the need for barangay officials to take the lead in stopping the construction of illegal structures and upholding the law specifically the National Building Code.
Ludovica previously served as chairman of Barangay Batasan Hills and was president of Quezon City’s Liga ng mga Barangay (Barangay League) before he was elected into the city council.
Should Mayor Herbert Bautista approve the ordinance, the measure is to be implemented 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
In enacting the ordinance, the city council observed, “The incessant nefarious activities of professional squatters and squatting syndicates, construction of illegal structures in both public and private lands in the barangay continue to proliferate to the great prejudice, damage, and disadvantage of the registered landowner and legitimate barangay inhabitants.”
They further took note of the practice of unscrupulous people, who already own lots, of deliberately constructing illegal structures for profit on vacant registered lands within the barangays to lease out or sell without the consent of the legal owners.
The councilors said that while the practice of illegally occupying privately owned lots has deprived their owners of the right to use their property, the illegal construction of structures on public lands has affected barangay residents because community facilities such as health centers, school buildings, sports complexes, or multi-purpose halls — could not be built in these areas.
Under the ordinance, barangay chairmen and the local Task Force for the Control, Prevention and Removal of Illegal Structures and Squatting (COPRISS) are to “summarily evict all persons conducting an on-going construction of any structure in public and private lands within the territorial jurisdiction of Quezon City without the express consent of the registered landowner or the necessary building permit from the city government and to demolish such structure.”
Task Force COPRISS is a local department tasked with enforcing all demolition and eviction orders issued by the city government.
The barangay captain is to immediately notify and advise the owner of the illegal structure being built to dismantle it, on his own, and to vacate the premises within three days.
If the owner of the illegal structure refuses to heed the advice of the barangay head, summary eviction is to be undertaken by both barangay officials and Task Force COPRISS without need of a court order.
However the demolition should only be enforced on the conditions that: the construction is on-going; that persons involved in the operations wear proper identification; that barangay public safety officers and policemen are deployed to maintain peace and order; that the eviction or demolition is undertaken during the regular office hours, Monday to Friday, and during good weather; and that heavy equipment are not used in the demolition.
Under the measure, construction materials used to build an illegal structure are to be confiscated in favor of the barangay should the owner of the building fail to claim them within three days after the demolition.
After the operation is completed, the barangay chairman and the head of Task Force COPRISS are to submit a joint activity report to the office of the city mayor stating vital information and the circumstances surrounding the demolition.
Non-compliance with the ordinance would mean administrative sanctions or penalties under the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and other pertinent laws.