DILG to probe syndicates behind 'professional squatters'

Is there really such a thing such as "professional squatting"?

After years of reports about the illegal activity, the Department on Interior and Local Government (DILG) will finally investigate syndicates that have allegedly been taking advantage of government's relocation program.

DILG undersecretary Francisco Fernandez added their department is ready to file charges against syndicate leaders, who are allegedly funding resistance efforts from informal settlers families (ISF).

"May mga leader ng squatting syndicate dyan na ayaw umalis at hinihimok pa yung iba na mag-stay kasi mawawala yung raket nila," Francisco said.

"Bukod sa pautang sa construction materials tulad ng hollow blocks, may naglalakad din dyan upang mabigyan sila ng kuryente at tubig na pinababayaran sa ISF buwan-buwan," he added.

The DILG official issued the statement after Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista revealed that an organized group is assisting remaining ISFs along Agham Road to resist demolition in the area.

On Monday, Bautista noted professional squatting syndicates reportedly asked for P1,000 for every family who they will help refuse relocation efforts from the government by barricading a corner of Quezon Avenue.

In a radio interview, the second-term Quezon City mayor said this has been causing hellish traffic jams in the area.

Earlier, various government agencies managed to relocate 6,000 out of 10,000 total of ISFs around the vicinity in Agham Road, Quezon City to San Jose del Monte in Bulacan province.

The ISFs who had been relocated only have to pay P200 a month to own a decent house for 25 years.

However, the DILG has failed to give a categorical answer about reports of ISFs opting to rent out subsidized houses right after being relocated by the government to go back and illegally settle in some parts of Metro Manila.

Calls for the government to strengthen its relocation efforts after torrential monsoon rains caused heavy traffic and severe flooding in Metro Manila last months.

The DILG, with the help of National Housing Authority, has already begun relocating 18,000 ISFs from danger zones such as major waterways and esteros to prevent flooding in the metro.

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