We’ve heard the Lina Law mentioned in the same breath as the bloody demolition in Parañaque City. One is confirmed dead and many injured as residents assault the incoming police column spearheading the demolition in the Silverio Compound.
The Lina Law — an informal name lifted from the law’s author, former Senator Joey Lina — is the common and informal name used when referring to Republic Act No. 7279, formally known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (“An Act to Provide for a Comprehensive and Continuing Urban Development and Housing Program, Establish the Mechanism for its Implementation, and for Other Purposes.” The Lina Law is the governing law on the subject matter of “squatting” in the Philippines. It governs the eviction and demolition relating to informal settlers. It is also the law that governs the local expropriation of property for purposes of urban land reform and housing.
Squatting used to be a crime under Presidential Decree No. 772 (Penalizing Squatting and Other Similar Acts), but this law was repealed by Republic Act No. 8368, also known as the Anti-Squatting Law Repeal Act of 1997. PD 772, which was issued by President Ferdinand E. Marcos on 20 August 1975. made it a crime for any “person who, with the use of force, intimidation or threat, or taking advantage of the absence or tolerance of the landowner, succeeds in occupying or possessing the property of the latter against his will for residential commercial or any other purposes.” PD 772 was subsequently repealed by Republic Act No. 8368, which took effect on 27 December 1997.
It is interesting to note that the sole purpose of RA 8368, considered as a major piece of legislation on the country’s anti-poverty program, was to expressly repeal PD 772. However, it has also been emphasized that the express repeal is never meant to encourage or protect acts of squatting on somebody else’s land. The repeal of the Anti-Squatting Law, however, does not mean that people now have unbridled license to illegally occupy lands they do not own. Recourse may be had in cases of violation of their property rights, such as those provided under the Lina Law which penalizes professional squatters and squatting syndicates. The Revised Penal Code provides for criminal prosecution in cases of Trespass to Property, Occupation of Real Property or Usurpation of Real Rights in Property and similar violations. Other available remedies include the actions for forcible entry or unlawful detainer and civil liability for damages under the Civil Code.
While we’re at it, you may want to discuss which group is more to blame. One group consists of informal settlers (politically-correct term for “squatters”), many of whom were clearly shown on the TV hurling molotov cocktails and other debris at the incoming police officers. The other group consists of the police officers who are implementing a court order. Some say that the use of live rounds is an use of excessive force on the part of the police. Some say the police merely responded to a legitimate threat to their lives. Let’s hear what you have to say.