MANILA, Philippines - Private landowners do not need to find relocation sites to evict illegal settlers from their property, former Interior and Local Government Secretary Joey Lina said on Thursday.
Lina said the issue of relocation for illegal settlers on private land is one of the misconceptions of Republic Act No. 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, which he helped pass into law and is now often referred to as the "Lina law."
"If you own the land and somebody squats, whether professional or not, you don't need to give them relocation. [Squatters] can get relocation only from the local government unit and only if they are occupying government land. If they are not given land, then the LGU should give them the equivalent of 60 days in daily wage. This is according to the principle of eviction of settlers in a humane manner," he told radio dzMM.
"It would be unjust for private landowners to lose their property to settlers. It is really government's responsibility to ensure that families have decent housing," he added.
Lina said demolition of illegal shanties should be done following the guidelines as enumerated in the law.
He noted that the eviction of illegal settlers can be handled at the barangay level since it falls under their jurisdiction.
"You can ask the barangay to stop [the settlers]. If they don't do anything, then he is liable for violating the law. Walang building permit as provided under the National Building Code. The executive of the local government can also evict if he declares the structure a nuisance," he said.
Lina, meanwhile, said it is customary that private landowners ask a local court to order the eviction of illegal settlers
"Under our system even without the Lina Law, they can't take the law in his hands. They have to go to court for an ejectment. but if the LGU just moves, they have the power to enforce the National Building Code to order the eviction and demolition of illegal structures," he said.