Monday , June 25, 2018

Bacolod told to pass ordinance vs ‘professional squatters’

THE National Drive Against Professional Squatters and Squatting Syndicates (NDAPSSS) urged Bacolod City officials to pass an ordinance creating a local committee against the professional squatters and squatting syndicates.

Lawyer Angelito Aguila, director II of Legal, Anti-Squatting and External Affairs Group of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), who was in Bacolod Wednesday, September 20, said the local body will identify the PSSS in Bacolod.

The committee will be composed by the city mayor, Philippine National Police, and representatives from Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.

Aguila said that once the PSSS are already identified, the local committee can recommend the issuance of the writ of eviction and demolition of the structures.

Aguila, along with the other members of the NDAPSSS, held a seminar in the city Monday not only to help the city in its housing projects and to address the problem in informal settlement, but also to increase the awareness of the city and barangay officials on the existence of PSSS.

He said the mission of the NDAPSSS is to eradicate all activities and operations of the PSSS by intensifying a nationwide information awareness campaign, community dialogue, case conferences, and legal support necessary to arrest and prosecute all PSSS.

Aguila said professional squatters are the people who occupy lands without the consent of the landowner and who have sufficient income for legitimate housing, but they choose to squat; persons who have previously been awarded homelots or housing units by the government but who sold, leased or transferred the same to settle illegally in the same place or in another urban; and non-bona fide occupants and intruders of lands reserved for socialized housing.

He added that a squatting syndicate is a group of persons engaged in the illegal business of squatter housing for profit or gain. They are selling house and lots using fake land titles and documents.

Aguila said the identified PSSS are not entitled to relocation. In fact, they are criminally liable and can be imprisoned because there is a criminal penalty under the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.

“We are willing to assist in the prosecution and the Department of Justice has reactivated its task force on PSSS that will assist the National Bureau of Investigation and the PNP in the investigation and prosecution of the cases against the PSSS,” he said.

Aguila added that only the informal settlers who are living in the river banks and creeks can avail of the relocation site.

He reminded the landowners to protect and watch their property to avoid PSSS. He said landowners are not obliged to give relocation site to the PSSS.

Councilor Renecito Novero, chairperson of committee on urban poor, said he will draft the ordinance to create the local committee to address the PSSS.

“The ordinance will outline the procedure for identifying the PSSS. It is an executive matter and we should follow the process and procedure. The purpose of this is to sanitize the environment from the PSSS,” he said.

City Legal Office Joselito Bayatan said the City Government is now concentrating on the relocation of the informal settlers.