Mayors urged to create anti-squatting group

CITY and municipal mayors were recently urged by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo to create committees to combat squatting at the local level.

This is to intensify the campaign against illegal activities of professional squatters by asking local chief executives to form local committees against squatting syndicates and professional squatters (LCASSPS) in their respective localities.

In a press statement, Robredo said the government is very serious in addressing the problem, and it needs the active participation of local government units through the creation of their LCASSPS.

He said the proliferation of professional squatters and squatting syndicates has been rampant not only in the urban areas but in the rural areas as well.

The local committee, according to the DILG secretary, will serve as the operating arm of the National Drive Against Professional Squatters and Squatting Syndicates in combating the squatting problem at the local level.

Robredo stressed local governments under Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act are mandated to adopt measures to effectively curtail the illegal activities of professional squatters and squatting syndicates.

The LCASSPS will be headed by the city or municipal mayor, with the local chief of police, a representative of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, the president of the PCUP-accredited urban poor organization, the duly designated or deputized representative of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, the president of the Liga ng mga Barangay of the municipality or city, and a representative from the private sector as members.

Among the committee’s functions are to adopt necessary measures to identify and effectively curtail the activities of professional squatters and squatting syndicates; identify the names of public officials, private individuals or entities suspected of abetting or tolerating squatting; provide legal assistance to victims of professional squatters and squatting syndicates; investigate cases of violation of laws or rules on eviction and demolition; monitor eviction and demolition activities.

Robredo also directed all DILG regional directors to submit quarterly reports regarding the identified professional squatters and squatting syndicates, demolition and eviction activities covered by the LCASSPS within their regional assignments.