REVIEW FLAWED SQUATTING LAW -- FERNANDO

Manila, Jan. 27, 2003 (Malaya) - Facing the prospect of having to relocate at least 70,000 families to be able to pursue its programs, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority yesterday said it will be proposing changes in the Lina Law which governs the treatment of squatters.

MMDA chairman and Public Works Secretary Bayani Fernando said the law authored by then Sen. Jose Lina in 1992 needs amending, particularly in the requirement that no eviction of squatters can be effected without the approval of the families involved.

This has led to the proliferation of so-called "professional" squatters who take advantage of "no relocation, no demolition" to make money by blocking relocation unless they are paid off by owners.

Fernando said a "simple majority" provision could be inserted to facilitate relocation. Most of the time, we have persuaded families to leave but even if just a single family refuses, no relocation takes place even though a suitable area has already been found for them," Fernando said.

Fernando said with the prevailing situation, government is finding it difficult to proceed with its projects, particularly those aimed at easing traffic congestion and the improvement of the existing road networks.

Under Fernando, the MMDA is embarking on the improvement of the Philippine National Railroad and the construction of two bus terminals in the northern and southern part of Metro Manila to service provincial commuters.

Both programs would lead to the displacement of at least 70,000 squatters.


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