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despicable me?


When I first started my column in July of 2010, I made it clear to Mr. Sam, our beloved editor, that I would not be writing about legal issues and most especially about politics, but it will just primarily be a lifestyle column on topics like family, parenting, food, books, beauty, fashion, etc.

Now on my third year in the “business” of couch chats, sharing and purging, I probably have matured (a bit) and could not help but make a statement on certain political issues at hand not necessarily as a lawyer or as a civil servant, but as an ordinary citizen of this country.

Seeing the violence among informal settlers and police authorities in the news is very disheartening.  For one these people have no right over the property they have actually been occupying admittedly since they were kids, or for others, already occupied by their grandparents even before they were born.  What are involved are mostly private property rightfully belonging to citizens who legally acquired them although probably failing to occupy them for some time.  Still, in contemplation of law, this does not vest upon actual settlers the right to appropriate the property.  Now that the rightful owners need to make use of their property, informal settlers thereon adamantly refuse, resulting in lawless violence that, when seen on TV, is enough to make one shudder.

Since when have we started tolerating lawlessness?  I would presume the correct procedure has been followed, that the property owner has secured a writ of demolition with the city government after complying with what the law requires, which makes enforcers – police authorities – merely agents complying with their sworn duty under the law.  They have no choice but to do what they do, and to expose themselves to harm in the process.  I am not saying the protesters do not get hurt likewise, but no violence would ensue if they only abide by the rule of law.

The same thing goes for people sought to be relocated because they live in hazard prone areas and evidently contribute to the worsening of floods in Metro Manila. Many refuse to leave because the resettlement areas are allegedly far from their places of work, or their kids’ schools, etc.  Whenever a spokesperson for the Palace speaks he sounds too apologetic, defensive and lacks conviction on the government’s plans for informal settlers.  And hey, don’t get me started on undocumented OFWs in the Middle East now demanding that the government spend a considerable sum for their repatriation.  After having worked and earned abroad knowing that they are blatantly violating laws requiring them to secure working permits, it is now the government’s obligation to bring them back safely.

There are millions of us out here, citizens with utmost respect for the law.  As income earners we pay the government all taxes and mandatory contributions due even before we get our net pay.  Surprise, surprise…many of us also live from payday to payday, surviving on what we have, making the most of where we are.  We also deserve substantial benefits from the taxes we pay, and it would be an injustice using them up for those who continue to defy the laws, and are seemingly coddled in the process.

Our government should be pro-poor in keeping with the concept of social justice, sure, but it must never be pro-indolent.  Spend taxpayers money on creating more jobs, on organizing more livelihood programs, or on infusing more capital to existing companies so as to encourage them to assist the government in providing more jobs.  As a very popular quote goes: ““Give a man fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime“.  


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