On the problem of informal settlers in Metro Manila

The national and local government units of Metro Manila, tempted to take the extreme view and action against the informal settlers in the Metro, should take a breather and ruminate on the wisdom of Jane Jacobs:

Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.

The repatriation of so many poor families back to their hometowns where a similar fate awaits them signifies the failure of the Metro to be inclusive in its growth and development; the failure of Local Government Units in the provinces and municipalities to work on growth and development that will provide economic opportunities at the local.

Cities are the engines of the country’s growth hence offer economic opportunities that may not be available in the provinces. This is what migrants to the cities are in search for, in the hope of getting up onto the next rung of the economic ladder. It is therefore their right to be in the cities as it is the right of the educated, skilled, and wealthy. To restrict or deter poor people from this right is to restrict their constitutional right of movement. The crux of the matter is not in poor people migrating to the Metro or urban areas but that growth and development is uneven in our case too Metro Manila-centric that there is little incentive to stay in the provinces.

Resolve this and the problem of politics involved in informal settlement will take care of itself. Implementation of the country’s regional development plans should start. Now.


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