|Editorial cartoon is credited to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 26, 2013|
Recently the governemennt plans to give a Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) amounting to P18,000 to every family living near esteros. This is in order for them to move out of the squatters area and rent an apartment in the city. The goals of the CCT are relevant: for the safety of the squatters and to help the government solve the squatting issue that has taken them so long to accomplish. However, 18K isn't enough to solve these problems.
Financially speaking, 18,000 pesos cannot cover the family for a year to rent an apartment. Here in Tondo Manila, a small two-floor apartment that my family owns, costs around P7000 per month to rent. The CCT is barely enough for three months! And we are talking about a small apartment. Considering that most estero families consist of six members, they can't possibly fit in a small apartment. With the money the are given, they've no choice but to rent a substandard apartment to get the most out of the 18K.
There is also no certainty that the entirety of the CCT will be actually used in finding a suitable home. Other than shelter, food and water are also vital needs. With the small income estero families earn, it come to no surprise that the moment they receive the 18k subsidy they'll spend it not in apartments but for food. Therefore not fulfilling the goal of the CCT.
If the P18K CCT is not enough to rent a suitable home and that it isn't really used for its real purpose. They'll still end up in the esteros once again, one way or another.
We need to invest in a long-term solution. Building houses will help but won't completely solve the squatting issue. The government also need to provide stable employment for these families so they won't rely anymore on government aid. Failure to give jobs to these families led to the failure of the Arroyo Administration to solve this issue, this is why the problem still persists.
The CCT doesn't solve the squatting issue. This is just a quick-fix, eventually the dilemma will spring back,. A permanent solution is required. The squatters need houses and employment, not P18,000. Because 18K isn't enough.