The Problem with Informal Settlers and Public Opinion

The problem of informal settlers has been growing for quite a while. In no small part looking for jobs in the city, while it dried up from wherever they’ve come. And so generations have settled on land. Sometimes it is government. Sometimes on private land. Always, based on the Lina Law, resettlement has to be paid for by the owner of said land if he wants those tenants removed.

The basis of the law is…compassion. You have a strata of people who live in poverty or very near so. It doesn’t take much to understand the situation. The same can be said of people living along the river banks. The same can be said of people living along train tracks. And in fact, a Dolphy show once featured a family living “along the riles”, or along the train tracks to capture the milieu.

Taxpayers of all stripe of course resent the massive use of taxpayer money to relocate people who, for some, are of the opinion that these people are professional squatters. In other people’s opinion, you ought to sink and swim. Either you work hard, and succeed just as they did, or you don’t. It is hard to justify to people the expense of relocation when they spend day in and day out paying their mortgages. Sending kids to school, and things like that.

In both cases the problem is the absence of concrete data to support the case. The poor like everyone else require varying degrees of solution. The taxpayer would perhaps appreciate the situation better if there was a way to validate and weed out the professionals. If there was some way that taxpayer money can be proven to deliver appropriate solutions, perhaps there wouldn’t have to be this clash.

There is without a doubt that for some families they really do need some assistance. What form, how deep, how wide, how long— is the question. Not all families may require resettlement outside the city, which would make it harder for those with jobs already to move. Would the move make it better for these families? Some perhaps. Others? Maybe not. In some cases, relocation may not be the only thing needed. Perhaps the father is a drunken deadbeat and the kids, hardly go to school. How do keep those kids going to school and cut a generation from poverty? Relocation doesn’t solve that, but the situation is captured, nontheless.

Is CCT the answer for one family? Is providing a job for one member of the family enough? How about following up the situation on a per family, and per individual basis to make sure that the money being invested in these people actually push them towards out of poverty? The point is, on a case per case basis the same solution applied across everyone may not be the best way to solve the problem of poverty.

The simplest answer to the question of “how do you solve poverty”, is jobs. Across Asia, the solution of our neighbors have always been to create factories, to build industries. The complex reality is that each family has a different situation— jobs may not apply. Skills may not match. Drugs could be involved. Perhaps education is needed first, before finding jobs for these people. How do you provide complex services to different sorts of people?

And perhaps depending on the case, these people once out of poverty ought to be required to pay it forward. Somehow or perhaps this should come naturally as well.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development are doing something. There is a crisis intervention unit, a “safety net to provide assistance and social protection to individuals in dire economic situations.”

What’s more, it would be nice to know how much is the success rate. It would also be nice to know the success rate of communities who first incite violence versus communities who were successfully relocated. It would be nice to know if the Lina Law was effective.

We have a government that pays for a lot of social services. We have a President who says we should pay taxes because now we have a government that works. We also have a nation with a lot of great and honest people willing to help the poor. We have a lot of poor people who do work hard. Who do honest work. Foundations and social enterprises all over the country, if you can hear them, see them in action— gives you hope because they are solving the problem of poverty. Yellow Boat projects that bring kids to school. Pencil projects. Shoes. And so many more. We are a nation that does have compassion.

The problem with informal settlers is that we don’t have enough information to see how big a change we’ve done to their lives, or lack there of. As taxpayers we get abstract numbers. How has it made a difference is a story that has yet to be told. The problem with public opinion is that too readily we count the beans and sometimes the cost is beyond mere coinage, but there is truth to the simplicity that the only way to solve poverty is through jobs. History is repeat with examples of that. The problem with either is the question of how effective. If knowing is power, where is the analytics?

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • manuel buencamino

    Making ends meet is the problem. Minimum wage jobs are not necessarily the solution.

  • Here are three sources of jobs: (1) get Japanese manufacturers to transfer from unfriendly China to the friendly Philippines, (2) establish a defense industry to manufacture our own boats and missiles and even drones; put it in Cagayan de Oro to get it close to poverty problem number one, Mindanao, and (3) use private/public partnerships to establish “middle market” product packagers to go from raw stuff from the ground to consumer goods (citronella to candles, palm oil to cosmetics) with the aim of selling to Filipinos (supported by a “Buy Filipino” publicity program). Rather than shipping raw product elsewhere to have it imported back into the Philippines (effectively shipping jobs elsewhere).

    • UPnnGrd

      Move weapons-manufacturing to Mindanao may be foolhardy given that when Malakanyang and MILF sign formal documents, then unless things change…. then Pinas Special Forces plus Marines and army leave Mindanao based on what PersiNoynoy has gifted to Murad and Jaffar.