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Estimating Informal settlers in the Philippines Essay

In the Housing Backlog Study commissioned by the HUDCC, the Consultants prepared the estimates of Informal Settlers in the Philippines. According to the Spatial Statistics of Informal Settlers in the Philippines component of the Study, informal settler families reached an estimated 550,771 households as of August 1, 2007. This is based on the extrapolation made using the 2000 Census of Population and Housing (CPH) and the 2007 Census of Population. The study showed that the highest concentration of informal settlers was in Quezon City, having more than 90 thousand households. Far second are Rizal in Calabarzon and Davao City in the Davao Region, both with more than 20 thousand households in the informal settler sector.

Table 1. Results of the Mapping of Informal Settlers in the Philippines

It should be noted that for this specific study, Informal Settlers are defined as those households1 whose tenure status is “rent-free without consent of owner”. The 2000 Census of Population and Housing (CPH) data provides statistics on households with tenure of lot, “rent-free without consent of owner” which were then classified as informal settlers. However, the 2007 Census of Population did not include the “housing aspect”, hence the study used the characteristic observed in CPH 2000 to project the numbers for 2007. The HUDCC then compared the result of the Study with the Survey on Informal Settlers in Metro Manila conducted by the NHA in 2007. In Table 2, the NHA identified 544,609 informal settler families in Metro Manila, while the NS0-CPH figures account for only 199,398 informal settler families.


Household- a group of persons who sleep in the same housing unit and have a
common arrangement in the preparation and consumption of food.

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Table 2. Comparison of Estimated Number of Informal Settlers in Metro Manila, 2007

The discrepancy between the Census-derived figures and the data from NHA can be explained by the different definitions and methodologies adopted by the NSO and the NHA. DEFINING AND IDENTIFYING INFORMAL SETTLERS

The National Census Office has defined Informal Settlers as “households occupying a lot rent-free without the consent of the owner”. In Census questionnaires on Tenure Status of the Lot, the respondent is asked, “Do you own or amortize this lot occupied by your household, do you rent it, or do you occupy it rent-free with consent of owner or rent-free without consent of the owner?”

Moreover, the Census questionnaires also generate data on type of building or house, construction materials of the roof, construction materials of the outer walls, state of repair of building/house, year building/house was built, floor area of the housing unit, tenure status of the lot . During Census of Population and Housing held every ten years, additional questions are asked from a 20 percent sample on the following: fuel for lighting, fuel for cooking, source of water supply for drinking and/or cooking, source of water for laundry and/or bathing, tenure status of the housing unit, acquisition of the housing unit, source of financing, monthly rental of the housing unit, usual manner of garbage disposal, kind of toilet/facility, land ownership.

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The National Housing Authority and Local Government Units, on the other hand, must follow the multi-faceted approach provided in RA 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 or UDHA in identifying “homeless
and underprivileged citizens” or more broadly, informal settlers.

UDHA does not use the term “informal settlers” nor “squatters” but adopts the term “homeless and underprivileged citizens ”2 . At the same time, the law mandates LGUs to undertake a Registration3 of Socialized Housing Beneficiaries, subject to eligibility criteria4. Special considerations are also provided for persons and entities who may be subject to eviction and demolition5 particularly those occupying danger areas and other public places, or areas affected by government infrastructure projects, and in lands when there is a court order for eviction and demolition.

Moreover, UDHA also distinguishes potential housing beneficiaries from professional squatters and squatting syndicates (Section 27) and new squatters (Section 44) who occupy the area after March 31, 1992.

The identification of homeless and underprivileged/socialized housing beneficiary or more broadly “informal settlers” in UDHA must take the following into consideration several aspects:

location in urban and urbanizable areas
family income
non-ownership of housing facilities elsewhere in the Philippines occupancy in makeshift dwelling units
security of tenure
location of dwelling (danger areas, public spaces, government infrastructure projects, private land)
not a member of a squatting syndicate
not a professional squatter the business of squatter housing for profit or gain occupancy of the land before March 31, 1992

To this end, the LGUs and the NHA conduct “censuses” on specific areas that involve physical survey of the area, tagging of every structure, mapping and household listing, ownership of structure, tenure arrangements (rental, sharing arrangements, absentee holdings), as well family composition, source of income, education. “Censuses” of informal settlers identify all households and even families, as well as structure owners, tenants, sharers, and other occupants, especially if the area will be cleared of structures for infrastructure development; for safety considerations in danger areas, or due to court orders.

However, only a handful of LGUs conduct regular “censuses” of informal settlers and report their findings to HUDCC.

Section 3. t.“Underprivileged and homeless citizens” refers to the beneficiaries of this Act and to individuals or families residing in urban and urbanizable areas whose income or combined household income falls within the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority and who do not own housing facilities. This shall include those who live in makeshift dwelling units and do not enjoy security of tenure 3

Section 17 Registration of Socialized Housing Beneficiaries – The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, in coordination with the local government units, shall design a system for the registration of qualified Program beneficiaries in accordance with the Framework. The local government units, within one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act, shall identify and register all beneficiaries their respective localities.

Sec. 16. Eligibility Criteria for Socialized Housing Program Beneficiaries – To qualify for the socialized housing program, a beneficiary: a.
Must be a Filipino; b. Must be an underprivileged and homeless citizen, as defined in Section 3 of this Act; c. Must not own any real property whether in the urban or rural areas; and d.Must not be a professional squatter or a member of squatting syndicate

Section 28. Eviction and Demolition Eviction or demolition as a practice shall be discouraged. Eviction or demolition, however, may be allowed under the following situations:
a. When persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks, and playgrounds; b. When government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be implemented; or c. When there is a court order for eviction and demolition.

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It is in this regard that there is a need to improve the data collection techniques for informal settlers in the Philippines.
Faced with the challenges of coming up with realistic and systematic information of informal settlers, the HUDCC has taken the lead in several initiatives: Defining “informal settlers” and designing data collection schemes The HUDCC proposed defining the term “informal settlers” as those households living in i)

lot without consent of the property owner;


danger areas;


areas for government infrastructure projects;


protected/forest areas (except for indigenous people);


Areas for Priority Development (APDs), if applicable; and


other government/public lands or facilities not intended for habitation.

The definition is based on the UDHA provision of households that will be affected by eviction and demolition namely those in danger areas such as river/waterways, railroad tracks, dumpsites; those in government lands, and those in private lands. The definition thus focuses on the spatial nature of population distribution of informal settlers. This definition also reflects the operational requirements for clearing of danger areas and those areas affected by government projects which targets all households, regardless of income or even tenure status. In this regard, mapping of such sites to guide the NSO will be crucial.

Operationally the HUDCC has made arrangements with the National Statistics Office and the National Statistical Coordination Board through the Technical Committee on Population and Housing Statistics (TCPHS) that this definition be adopted during the 2010 Census of Population. The HUDCC moved for the inclusion of the following question to be answered by the enumerator through observation:

Encircle the actual or the nearest physical location of the housing unit of the respondent:

Residential area


Along river/creek/canal/estero/waterways


Along the railroad


Easements of road and/or highway and/or under the bridge


Inside cemetery


Areas for government infrastructure projects


Within dumpsites


Within protected areas and forest lands
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Within compound of government hospital, school, military camps or other public institution and facilities

Within private lands


Others, specify______________________

The NSO, through Administrator Ericta considered the request of HUDCC as a post census activity. The HUDCC was also required to come up with maps delineating barangays boundaries, limits of danger areas, and even extent of right-of-way to guide the post-census validation. The HUDCC offered to concentrate first on Metro Manila informal settlers in coordination with Metro Manila Development Authority.

To this end the HUDCC coordinated with the Metro Manila Development Authority which committed to generate maps from its member-LGUs. It should be noted that the MMDA was also engaged in its own update of the Informal Settler Families in Metro Manila and welcomed the opportunity to bridge the inconsistency between the generated ISF data of HUDCC with their own database. In this regard the HUDCC facilitated a workshop between NSO and MMDA to harmonize the data gathering system of the two agencies.

The National Statistical Coordination Board, through the TCHPS took cognizance of the strong demand for population data for danger areas/zones and recommended that the “HUDCC first provide an operational definition of these areas and then identify and prepare a listing of these areas by barangays. With the operational definition and listing of danger areas/zones, the HUDCC may coordinate with NSO for the generation of the population data for these areas as part of the post census activities.”

The Department of National Defense also supported the concern for more population data on those in danger areas/ zone, with its comments made during the Referendum among the NSCB Board Members (November 11, 2009) when it stated:

2. On Population count for danger areas/zone
It may be appropriate to link this up with the work of the Interagency
Committee on Security Sector Statistics (IACSSS). The IASCSSS may identify conflict-affected areas and study the correlation, if any, between census-generated data on population and housing with other

demographic data, as inputs to policy and strategy formulation. This may be done as an after-census activity. Moreover, there is an ongoing effort to develop the “hazard map” of the Philippines, showing the vulnerabilities of various regions/provinces in terms of disasters, such as typhoons, earthquakes, landslides and others. Data on population and housing will be very critical in the formulation of policies and disaster management plans.

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Section 17 of RA 7279, Registration of Socialized Housing Beneficiaries, directs the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, in coordination with the local government units, to design a system for the registration of qualified Program beneficiaries. The local government units, within one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act, shall identify and register all beneficiaries their respective localities.. To this end a simple form indicating family composition, and tenure status was designed to be filled up by the potential beneficiaries during the Registration date designated by the LGU.

More than a decade later, the Housing Backlog Study was able to generate a computer program that will assist the LGUs administer the registration. The computer program will facilitate encoding, and even gather biometric data (photos, etc.) and ease reporting requirements.

The Computer-based data entry system on beneficiary listing in the CD which was tested in Taguig and Muntinlupa , in which both LGUs expressed their appreciation for the program. NEXT STEPS The HUDCC continues to coordinate with the MMDA and the NSO with regard to the processing of the 2010 Census of Population and Housing. To date, the MMDA has been able to consolidate the reports of informal settlers in Metro Manila from 15 out of the is 17 component LGUs . Maps have been prepared in several municipalities.

Under the new administration of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the HUDCC has refocused its housing thrusts to building new homes for the poor in partnership with NGOs like the Gawad Kalinga and Habitat for Humanity, and to empower LGUs to assume a bigger role in providing housing for their constituents. In this regard, the Computer-aided system developed by the SRTC could be easily mobilized.

The HUDCC will also work with the NSCB and the Interagency Committee on Security Sector Statistics (IACSSS) as suggested by the DND in order to design a better data collection system. To this end, the HUDCC envisions that future population data will also have a spatial component, with mapping incorporated in the data-gathering and reporting – using a GIS approach to identifying potential housing beneficiaries in the near future. CONCLUSION

The quest to improve the database on informal settlers was the result of open dialogues and the support of the NSO, the MMDA and the NSCB. The dialogues were able to generate a definition of “informal settlers” that is based on location and is complementary to the needs of agencies that will address the needs of these households. As the Philippines and the rest of the world grow more urban in nature with the attendant challenges of urban blight, overcrowding, poor quality of life , better data gather methods and baseline data will be crucial in identifying areas and sector that will need interventions. The latest computer programs should be used as tools to

And we hope when the next Census of Population and Housing comes around in nine years, we are better equipped so that we can cover the whole Philippines .

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