Monday, August 19, 2013

Informal Settlers or Squatters : High Time to Bulldoze Them Out of the Esteros?

Wazzup Pilipinas!

"Not to sound like an elitist conyo, but every time it starts flooding like this, I'm tempted to think we should just bulldoze all those shanties blocking our esteros, and not give a flying f*ck over the ILLEGAL settlers."
Why is it always easiest to hit the most evil flavor of the season without really looking at how complex the problem is?

I doubt that the shanties along the esteros are the bulk of the problem. The squatters are a major cause of clogging but we're not exempt from blame either. It's not just the shanties anymore but also the neglected water ways and esteros, and those land grabbers titling themselves to floodways and building structures. 

We also have poor urban planning in general. Besides esteros being blocked by shanties, flooding in Manila is also sever due to bad urban planning. If you look meticulously at the Manila skyline, it looks like a badly-built lego set. Looking at the skyline makes you feel like you stepped on a lego though a hundred times over, and it does not get better when viewed from above. (I'd take a badly built lego set over Manila's sky line. At least colors of lego bricks are appealing to the eyes.) Seriously, condos are just popping up out of nowhere; especially in Taft. A mall in Quezon City for one has overwhelmed the sewerage infrastructure for a good chunk of Quezon City.

In one village, a major factor that contributes to the propensity for flooding there is that certain malls in the area have redirected their drainage flows. And possibly, as well, paving more and more soil due to urban developments. In Sampaloc, the recent Condo-building boom has caused many drainages to clog and flood... when they were working fine before. "Bumabara yung mga kanal dahil dun sa tira-tirang semento na tinatapon nila." (The drainage will clog because of the left-over cement from teh construction). I'd see trucks pumping the residue down the drains... then the drains never worked the same way again.
"Yung mga condo at malalaking buildings yata ang kailangan i-demolish" (I think it's the condos and high-rise buildings that needs to be demolished). It's the same kind of thing happening in another area. The creek right outside their village is suddenly oversensitive to rains. They're still not exactly sure why, though. And the squatters can't be the reason as they've been squatting where they've been squatting for as long as they can remember.
There are a ton of condos propping up in San Juan as well - smack dab in the middle of the residential areas to boot. Somebody should drag the assh*les out of their corporate offices, and show them just how much damage they're doing with all of their unneeded building.

However, the small-time businessmen should also be blamed.
"Malapit sa UST, madalas ko makita nagbubuhos ng wastes nila sa canal yung mga carinderia." (I often see carinderia owners near UST that throw away waste in the canals). Imagine how much waste is generated (and thrown into canals) for serving food to a few thousand students. I think the sewer system is barely able to handle it even before heavy rains.

Manila may be beyond saving, sadly. Flooding there may never be solved, unless China gets pissed off and just nukes NCR, but that is drastic.

Though there are exceptions: some areas in Paco, Manila, don't look messed-up. Either the government is spending non-stop for the cleaning or the people there learned to clean their acts. Actually, we shouldn't have so many people living in a flood plain in the first place. City planning with sewers in mind would have been a lot easier on hilly ground.

We wouldn't have this problem if we had sewage systems like Paris or New York (that extend a lot lower than our own cheap canals).

We shouldn't be focusing our attention to the informal settlers alone. Even the corporate giants are contributing to the threat of flooding in Manila. I's sure you have seen a lot of condos sprouting like mushrooms all over the metro. Remember the Ondoy flood? It was not a problem back then when there were no major condos near the areas.

But how come most of the move is only centralized on the poor people (mostly coming from the provinces)? Though "squatters" are really guilty of being part of the cause, they're here in Manila primarily because they couldn't get work or a source of living at their respective provinces. If the government could only attract investors to setup businesses (that provide jobs that pay well) in the provinces, the residents there will not be moving to Manila and if there are affordable housing choices then they won't be tempted to build shanties in esteros (because they can't afford to rent in subdivisions or apartments).

But I really doubt that the garbage alone of the "squatters" would contribute greatly to the flooding. - It's the sewerage system that wouldn't work well anymore because the original planned system is now highly incapable of handling the huge constructions and housing projects and developments that are now existing all over the Metro.

*Solicited by Antonio Pe Yang III
*Photo from

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