squatter-free in 10 years?

Can BF really clear Metro Manila of squatters?

They have a plan, or so goes the claim of the Metro Manila Interagency Com­mittee for Informal Settlers.* The committee, led by Bayani Fernando says their proposal, if implemented, will mean no squatters in Metro Manila by 2018.

Tall order. Very tall order.

If the MMDA can accomplish that, then they would have accomplished what every other megacity in the developing world has failed at. They will do better than Mexico City, than Sao Paulo, than Mumbai, than Lagos, than Istanbul. They will succeed where even the Cities Alliance has struggled since 1999. They will accomplish, what even Marcos with his full dictatorial powers could not do.

And that is to reverse very strong global social, economic and network forces.

Can they do it? I seriously doubt it. Only because if you pull back the lens and zoom out to the global scale, the odds are seriously against it.

There are currently 1 BILLION slum dwellers in the world. Which means every sixth person in the world lives in an informal settlement. That number is expected to swell to 2 billion by 2030. Then 3 billion by the middle of the century. That's 1 in 3.

In Metro Manila, the lowball estimate is that 40% of the population lives in informal settlements, so every fifth person you meet in the metro lives in a slum community. That's at least 4.5 million people -more than double the population of Quezon City.

BF, for political reasons, was being coy about the plan and refused to give details:
However, Fernando assured that the program will not be dis­advantageous to the informal settlers because it includes the identification and development of relocation areas complete with schools, markets and more im­portantly, livelihood opportunities.
Which sounds to me like they are planning a newtown/satellite city strategy which London and Paris and a host of other cities tried in the late 1800s (and which is apparently in vogue again).

The results were a mixed bag. The satellite towns didn't decongest the center cities. All it did was spread the development out even further.

I'm skeptical but I'm willing to withold judgement until they show more details of the plan.

Do you think it could work?

Image credit: from My Sari-sari Store
by Sidney

*Btw, I wonder if any informal settlers actually sat in that committee?
They should have these people on board. They've won awards.


Anonymous said...

i think the mmda chairman meant patial clearing. when we do look at the odds, its quite enormous. however, if we have difficulty in believing, how can we achieve?

Sidney said...

No way, especially at the rate the Filipino population is growing.
Maybe they should first introduce birth control and then move the squatters.

Urbano dela Cruz said...

hi anonymous,

"squatter-free" doesn't sound like "partial clearing" to me. but like I said, I need to see more details.

don't get me wrong, I would be the last person to say that the metropolis is hopeless -so I do believe, except that I believe in a different vision.

rather tham aiming for a "squatter free" metropolis, I think we should be aiming for a livable metropolis.

I also see squatting as a housing supply and demand issue -not a criminal, peace and order issue. So the solutions I think we should seek would be very different from relocation.


Urbano dela Cruz said...


you bring up an interesting point. What is driving metromanila's pop growth? is it the birth rate?

I don't think so. From what I read the birthrate in our urbanized areas hovers around 1.83 -way below the replacement level of 2.1.

I've written before that cities are population sinks.

I'd also like to know what the birthrate is in the slum communities. I suspect it could be lower than the replacement rate. I do remember lots of kids in the communities i've worked with -but am not sure if that was a function of density rather than birthrate.

next time you're out on your photo shoots in our poorer neighborhoods, ask around about how many kids people have -and then compare that to the upper class families you know.

em said...

Of course it is possible but I don't think relocation to other cities is the solution. Let them stay in Manila but give them jobs and affordable housing.

Singapore did it.


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