Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Go Home, You're Emotional

Demolitions. Everywhere.

Do I like to watch informal settlers, or those we call squatters, evicted? No.
Do I enjoy watching them suffer? No.
Do I believe they shouldn't receive government dole outs and free housing? No.

But I've said it before, and I will say it again. Any way I look at it, informal settlers must be removed from the lands they're squatting on. 1st, politicians use these people as a vote mill. 2nd, many areas in the city have become unsafe to pass even for cars because squatters become a den for criminals. 3rd, professional squatters make money using land that's not theirs. On TV, a resident of Agham Road complained many of them don't want to move to Montalban as it's "far from work." 

What's wrong with this picture? What's wrong is that it's the same for many of us who can't afford cars and/or rent. We live far from work. We have to commute. We have to suffer squeezing into jam-packed trains and buses and jeeps.

But we are unqualified to receive aid and housing from the government because we are not part of indigent groups.

My family went through years of not having much to eat. We lost our home and had to pay for rent. We lived near the Marytown slums in Katipunan. We could have opted to squat so we could save on rent to pay for school and food. But we decided not to add to the vast communities of illegal settlers.

Because it's the right thing to do.

Stop for a minute and let your emotions settle. I really don't understand why people who call themselves "activists" pedestalize the poor into near-sainthood. Look at what author Arnold Alamon writes. He opines that the indigent are justified in their actions. They are supposedly brave, and in fact,
"...have nothing to lose. That is why they have resorted to defending their communities, setting up barricades, and matching the violence of the State with their own against these threats of demolition of their homes."
Sure, they may be brave. But that doesn't make the poor noble. Whether the land is of the state or of private ownership, property is a right to be respected. And they stole those lands. What other way can we call what they have done? My grandmother owns some plots of land in Zamboanga. A friend owns a lot in Commonwealth. A relative of mine owns some lots in Rizal. None of these lands are of use to any of us now because informal settlers have made these into their homes and will molotov us once we try to lay claim.

We are traveling a downward spiral. Are we to give impunity to the poor just because they are poor? We're giving them exactly what we hate about politicians who earn their impunity from their vast stores of wealth, goons and power. The corrupt official stealing from the country's coffers should be persecuted, but the poor man who steals my wallet is justified. The rich tycoon who is developing a plot of land for commercial purposes should be persecuted, but the poor man who takes land illegally should be understood. When the rich infringe upon our freedom of ownership, it is wrong, but when the poor man is the one doing it, then they're merely claiming their rightful share?

How can any of that be justified when the poor cannibalize on those who are just as poor? Their thievery doesn't do much to redistribute the wealth that is held strongly by the hands of the wealthiest 1%. They take at the expense of the "kasing hirap" or the "manggagawa."

How is letting them go do their thing supposed to better our society?

I so hate how this Alamon guy paints a picture of the middle class as some sort of wannabe senyora/don who hates the poor. Where the hell does he meet the people he's basing his claims on?

"Instead of viewing these communities such as the one in North Triangle as homes of families and children, they would rather amplify their own entitlements towards their dream middle class lifestyles and how, despite their best efforts, these remain out of reach.

Even more scandalous is that many of these social climbers lived and survived in these [types] of spaces. They acquired their education which enabled them to work in places like Makati, Ortigas, or Eastwood but while in college, they relied on Manang Aristocart to provide for their meals, or Manong Boy for their fifth-hand textbook, or Lola Maria for their cheap laundry.

Till now, they still depend on the workers of the informal economy to provide for their inexpensive goods and services so that they can afford their rock-and-roll lifestyle. You want your load for your pre-paid phone, go to Manang Janitor. Your saving up for a big date, have your meals delivered on the cheap by Manang Nene. And yet they regard them with such disdain and wouldn’t care less if the Manangs' and Manongs' homes of 30 years are demolished."

Talk about sweeping generalizations! Who the hell would hate the kind manang who pirated all the textbooks during college? I can never forget Manang Alma from the Ateneo who called me panga. I hold no disdain for the janitor who used to sell us load when I was in high school. I certainly don't know anyone who would pray that these kind people be evicted from their homes, (if these manangs and manongs even do live in the squatters).

But we live in a state. We are ruled by a constitution. We live free and are therefore tasked to be responsible for our own free acts. If I steal I know the consequences. If I sell drugs, I know what might happen. If implementation of law is a malicious act, and believing in it is "social climbing," then perhaps the law should be adjusted to give leeway to the poor.

Oh, how convoluted. You see, you may be a kind, noble person, but you are only as kind as your last action.
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