May 15th, 2010
01:37 PM ET

Fire in Philippines leaves 4,000 homeless

A massive fire Saturday engulfed a sprawling slum area near the Philippine capital of Manila, leaving at least 4,000 people homeless.

Metro Manila fire chief Pablito Cordeta told CNN affiliate ABS-CBN that at least 800 shanty houses were gutted in Muntinlupa City before fire trucks were able to douse the blaze. The area is about four miles from Manila.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Cordeta said.

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  1. No More Mr. Nice Guy

    Been there and the place is a mess. Every country the Spanish touched has become a dangerous basket case.

    May 16, 2010 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. brian

    Mike, you are a real ass. You're lucky you wern't born into poverty like so many. Grow up.

    May 16, 2010 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. WPJ

    WHAT THIS COUNTRY NEEDS ARMS REVOLUTION.POWER TO THE NEW PEOPLE'S ARMY.

    May 16, 2010 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. antonio

    I am a foreigner who lives in the Manila area. Reading the comments I do agree with most of them. The majority of the squatters are a disgrace to their country but as long as the roman catholic church prohibits the use of any means of birth control it can and will only get worse.
    It is true that the majority of these families have to live on 250 pesos a day, but it is also true that in these same slums the birth rate is like in a rabbit pen, plus the corruption and dishonesty and voila the right ingredients for the whole situation in this country. The Pasig River, which flows through a large part of Metro Manila was recently cleaned up of the garbage thrown in by the, as they are called by the politician, illegal settlers who dwell on the river banks. Only a few weeks later the Pasig River is again clogged with their garbage and filth. It is a fact however that these squatters are countless votes for the politicians who allow them to live in these inhuman slums and who prefer to keep them in that situation.

    May 16, 2010 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. gocs

    Most people in the slums are not waiting for God. They are smart and are earning more and they will be the ones to tell you this saying "nasa Diyos ang awa nasa tao ang gawa." (It's God who will feel pity and provide the blessing but man has to work for it.) . I have lived here all my life, and helped these people, and the slums are not what you see in the outside. There are some who really are so poor but most who live there can afford a good life much more than a regular person who has a regular job and an apartment. Its crowded and a fire hazard but the economic system of a slum or squatter is very interesting to study including the fact that they pay no taxes for living on the land they do not own, no sales tax is charged for any business they make, plus the land owner has to pay them to leave. Electricity and water are split and sold at higher rates. They charge rent for a space as big as your washing machine to a new tenant as much as you pay for rent in a clean apartment with no taxes to pay to the government. Not to mention that since they are considered poor, they have the opportunity to own lands in other cities chosen by the government in preparation for vacating the land they live on but they will never leave.

    May 16, 2010 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  6. James

    I'm a Filipino and I believe that most if not all ofthe poor people in the Philippines deserve what they have now, look at the latest result of the Senatorial Election! they again voted the likes of Jinggoy Strada, Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla and all the trapos (Traditional Politicians). They should vote intelligently! look at all thosee votes that Convicted and Pardoned former President Strada got! is a nation voting for a convict worthy of our symphaty? They deserve to suffer! because all this vote came from them!!! We are at least lucky Strada did not Won! GOD Helps the Philippines!!!!

    May 16, 2010 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. Troy

    I am an expat living in Manila. The root of all the problems is birth control. There are too many people living in Manila and in the various cities. It might take a generation to correct itself, but Philippines needs to seperate the Church from the government. Establish 1 one child or 2 child policy. Next they need to innact a proper tax structure. Municiple tax for each person who lives in an city. That tax pays for the city's roads, schools etc. The mayor, councilmen, are given a salary and a required to run a balanced budget for the municipality. They municipality should be audited and kept in line, any corruption will be dealt with prison time. Once you establish this set up at an municipality level, you can then take it to a provincal wide set up, Then have the same accountability to the governor. Then you must change the way you elect your senators. You should not have Manila voters deciding the fate of the elections. your senator must live in and represent a specific geographical area such as Illocos Norte, and he must be elected by only people from that area. He can visit Manila when the Senate is in session, but should live in his respective area. Next Manila needs to completely revamp its traffic laws and traffic inforcement. Give a point system like in the USA. Two tickets in two years and you lose your insurance and your licence. Make people take strict licence exams and tests regularly. Inforce traffic laws with tickets and not bribes. If you lose your licence you can't drive period. Maybe this would fix the dangerous problem we have with our jeepneys and buses. Have specific pick up points and drop off points that are not in the middle of the road. Have traffic police striictly inforce this policy. Another thing to improve is property development standards. Don't build a new SM mall 50 feet from a crowded street. Have the planners look at the level of traffic and create new roads or parking that will support the construction and development of a new commercial space. Build the space 1/2 mile off the road and build a new road that goes to the new SM. Build a parking lot around it. Have a bus stop, jeepney stop next to the building 1/2 mile off the road. This alieviates traffic.

    But the real problem is the population. 92 million people live in Philippines. 11 milllion more live overseas as workers. In 1999 the Philippine Population was only 75 million. In 1980 the population was onlu 48 million. After WWII the population was onlu 18 million. in 1920 win Burnham was designing the City of Manila and Bagiuo he was designing architectual plans for a smaller population. There were only 7 million people in the entire country in 1920. Bagiuo was designed for 20,000 people to live, and today there are over 480,000. Same with Manila. The country was not designed for some many people. Nature is going to take care of the problem if the people themselves don't stop having babies either by forced birthcontrol or by choice.

    May 16, 2010 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. It's Complicated

    Poverty in the Philippines, like poverty anywhere else, can't be attributed solely to one factor. At the individual level, you can point to the behavior of poor people stealing utilities and engaging in unsafe and unlawful activities, and yes, there is a certain degree of individual responsibility. BUT many of these problems are merely symptoms of far deeper social problems. As of Jan. 2010, 27% of Filipinos of working age (15 or older) are unemployed or underemployed (Nat'. Statistics Office). That's roughly 16 million Filipinos. The Philippines has dealt with the problem, not by trying to create more jobs at home, but by encouraging Filipinos to travel overseas and send money home. As a result, much of the top talent leaves the country. High unemployment and underemployment help keep people trapped in poverty, breeds crime, alcoholism, depression and other social problems.

    The lack of family planning certainly contributes to the poverty problem. More mouths to feed means less money to pay for education, which can help to lift people out of poverty, but at least as bad is the corruption in the country. Money intended for public services is instead regularly siphoned off into the pockets of politicians. The Philippines takes pork barrel politics to another level. Anyone who has lived there can tell you that local public buildings are proudly emblazoned with signs proclaiming that they are "gifts" to the local people from this or that senator, congressman, and/or councilor, not the government itself, and certainly not from the people who elected those politicians.

    The political system is allegedly democratic but the relationship between the electorate and the politicians often seems closer to medieval feudalism, with powerful landowning families wielding political power and using it to enrich themselves. Cory Aquino, the "saintly" former president so beloved by Filipinos and the mother of the apparent president-elect, advocated land reform but arranged the laws such that 70% of eligible land (including her family's own 7,000 hectare plantation) remained exempt, ensuring that farmers remained tenants, unable to save money to afford their own farms, much less bootstrap their way out of poverty.

    It's easy to blame the poor for their own problems, but if we are serious about alleviating poverty and the resulting social problems, we need to understand how the deck is stacked against the poor.

    May 16, 2010 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. Georges

    Is it a Roman Catholic thing, a Spanish thing or what? I mean, both track one-another throughout this world so it's kinda hhrd to tell which came first. Why is it so that corruption at both the familial as well as political level seems to be so rampant where these conditions exist? Look at the Philippines, Mexico, Puerto Rico – all Hispanic like culture all overwhelmingly corrupt on so many levels. Is this an accident, coincidence or what? Interesting questions! It's like the 5000 lb elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about... too PC. Well, I believe NATURE has a way of correcting for these issues and that's what it's all about...

    May 16, 2010 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. Erwin

    I am a Filipino Catholic and I grew up in the slums in a southern island of the country. More than anything else, the causes of poverty here are the lack of discipline and education, government corruption and the impractical stance of the Catholic church in population control.

    I am lucky enough to have parents who worked hard to push me and my two siblings through college. I have a good job now and earn a modest salary. My siblings are in the US and in Abu Dhabi. I like to think that am proof that one can rise out of poverty. How impoverished were we? Oh, we once lived in a house where under the floorboards one could see the overflowing septic tank. You bet it smelled.

    I think the government needs to discourage people from the provinces from flocking to Manila in search of jobs. That's the main reason it is so congested here. The public educational system has to be overhauled to compete with international standards.

    The people must stop thinking that they are so helpless and very dependent on dole outs. They need to realize what "work" is and the corresponding responsibility. They need to understand the concepts of honesty, industry and discipline.

    And the church should shut up and stop meddling in the government's effort in curbing population growth.

    May 16, 2010 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Osang

    It's an old problem, over and over again. Manila is not a place for overcrowded people. Someday, nature will strike back. The main problem is the Church who keeps meddling on government's program when it comes to population, and of course the political will of the new soon-to-be-elected president.

    May 16, 2010 at 4:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. A FILIPINA LIVING IN ISRAEL

    ALL TO BLAME HERE AS I CAN SEE WHAT IS GOING ON IS THE GOVERMENT.
    people of philippines are ignorant.
    politicians has been using the ignorance of their fellow country.

    as politicians ony take care of themselves all promises in the election had been and still going on until now as i suppose with a lot of promises and hope for those poor people.

    as the election ends and politicians sits on their belongng chair they forgot all those who had chosen and give their voice to them with hope that one day poverty in philippines might end up. goverment corruption is the only key to country poverty.

    my heartache for my fellow country man and very upset at the goverment. if only i have the power i will let them live a day as poor guy as slave of its own poverty i will let them live like those people who live is in dumster for them to taste what is like. visiting poor place in the side of all politicans for me is an hypocritic politician way of winning.
    as in result: people who lives in slums. dumster garbage place will be stuck living there as politicians live their live with their high grade cars, tuxedo's and first class food as those people eat on garbge.

    philippine goverment must to learn how to use philipine rich resources. they must to teach filipino people about birth control as this might resolve most as filipina women and men in philippines might have a slight knowledge of it.

    philippine goverment must stop corruption it is a big shame. philippine goverment must put tolearn how torun its country as i am shameful of what is going on there.

    as all of filipino workers who have salary and pay taxes as when they are unemplyed there is not one dime even to receive from goverment.

    i am a filiina/israeli i am living in israel for 19 years. i had learn a lot about israel as i was converted in their religion as i am living as regular israeli citizen who pay taxes and all goverment taxes i must to pay. and on the other hand as i was unemployed my goverment give me a unemployment salar to survive until i find a new job.

    though some of israeli politicians are corrupt to but they are very smart and with a willingness to help israeli people as if there will be a percentage of poverty going on in israel it is only the people (not all with all do respects as my words are only an opinion) to blame as the goverment gives all necessary tools to find themselves a job.

    filipino people must learn how to choose very wise about it's politician who will vote. as we know currption is inevitable in anyway's but they must not to re-elect politcians who failed once.

    philippines is a beautiful country with rich resources. goverment must to act as quickly as they can to resolve the poverty and to use the resources that this beautiful country can offer.

    i hope i did not offend nobody as all what i wrote is an opinion from somebody who's been following on what is going on with my country.

    i jhope that philippine goverment show us here in abroad a reason to comeback and a reason to promote philippine products like i do for importing.

    May 16, 2010 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. John Lundy

    I am an expat who has lived in the Philippines since 1994. These swatter areas are often ran with the local authorities consent. They are in it for a profit, the swatter land lords place money first and the poor's well being second. My friend purchased a prime Cebu City condominium, shortly after moving in he was sad to note the vacant land adjoin the condominium was turned in to a squatter residential area, complete with utilities. People living in these are have no noise restrictions and when it comes pay day after a few San Miguel’s they tend to like to party and ramp up the volume on their karaoke players.

    This is in a prime Real-estate area and is obvious all living around the ares so it would appear the the local government knows what is going on but, prefers to turn a blind eye on matters...Money talks.

    May 16, 2010 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
  14. A FILIPINA LIVING IN ISRAEL

    AS I AM READING ALL COMMENTS BY DIFFERENT EXPAT'S LIVING INPHILIPPINES
    ALL I CAN SAY IS I AM ASHAME OF PHILIPPINE GOVERMENTS.

    AS PROBABLY ALL OF OU POLITICIANS MIGHT NOT KNOW HOW MY COUNTRY LOOKS LIKES BECAUSE OF YOUR LOCK OF INTERESTS ABOUT MAKING A PROGRESS.

    ALL FILIPINO'S MUST REUNITE TO END POVERTY.

    PHILIPPINE GOVERMENT MUST TO WAKE TO THEIR LONGLIFE SLEEP AN UNLOCK OF INTERESTS ABOUT THEIR OWN COUNTRY.

    I AM ANGRY AND UPSET READING THIS COMMENTS AS IT HURT MY HEAR AS I STILL HAVE FAMILIES WHO LIVES THERE.

    AS MY MOM WORK HARD IN HER WHOLE LIFE PAY TAXES AS MY DAD TOO.
    BUT SINCE MY DAD DIE MY MOM DID NOT RECEIVE ANY DECENT PENSION AS SHE IS OLD NOW AND IT IS NOT EVEN ENOUGH TO BUY HER MEDICINE.

    I KUST THANK THE LORD ABOVE NOT TO LET ME GREW UP THERE AS I WILL NOT KNOW WHERE MY LIFE COULD BE IF STAYED IN PHILIPPINES.

    INSTEAD OF PUSHING FILIPINO PEOPLE TO FIND A DECENT JOB IN PHILIPPINES ITSELF BECAUSE OF CORRUPTION AND POVERTY ITSELF AS GOVERMENT WON'T TAKE ANY RATIONAL STEP TO FINISH THISENDLESS SUFFER OF FILIPINO PEOPLE.

    AS IF PLS. WITH ALL DO RESPECTS WITH ALL ACTORS WHO TURNED POLITICIANS.
    AS YOU WERE BORN ACTORS ARE ALL FILIPINO VOTERS BLINDED WITH THEM BECAUSE THEY WERE THEIR PAST IDOLS FROM MOVIE..

    HOW THEY CAN PROMISE AND GIVE AND ASSURE THAT THEY ARE RELIABLE WITH KNOWLEDGE IN MANAGING A COUNTRY?
    did they learn any basics managements politician educations or everything is a play on a big theather that al my fellow filipnos are their puppets?

    BEFORE BEING A POLITICIAN A MAYOR, A SENATOR OR WHATEVER POSITION IT MIGHT BE IN THE GOVERMENT.

    I THINK THEY MIGHT ATLEAST A DIPLOMA A MAJOR OF FINANCE MANAGEMENT OR A DOCTOR IN HISTORY OR A HIGH DEGREE IN UNIVERSITY.

    NOT A SUPERSTAR OR ACTION SUPERSTAR OR WHATEVER IT MAYBE.....
    DON'T YOU GUYS ALL I SAID IS REASONABLE ENOUGH TO DOUGHT THEM.

    OR ALL OF YOU JUST GIVE THEM A BLIND REASONABLE DOUGHT THAT THEY MIGHT SUCCEED IN ANYWAY.

    IF THAT IS THE CASE IT SO PATHETIC..........AS POVERTY AND CORRUPTION WILL NEVER EVER END AS PHILIPPNE COUNTRY WILL BE DRAWNED BY GOVERMENT SELF BECAUSE OF UN-FITS AND UN-LOCK POLITICIANS.

    OR FILIPINO VOTERS ARE TOO MUCH NAIVE AND IGNORANT AS IT WILL NEVER EVER BE CHANGED?

    IT HURT SO BAD SO IF GOVERMENT OFFICIALS MIGHT SEE OUR COMMENTS. PLS. WAKE UP AS YOU PEOPLE MUST BE THE TOOL TO LET THIS COUNTRY BE PROUD FOR HAVING AS THE LEADERS

    May 16, 2010 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. ka inso

    there was one candidate for president who advocated for development of the province so people won't migrate to metro manila and other urban centers.he had laid a great plan for the country but sad to note that all had fallen into deaf ears and it was an actor eventually winning the presidency .this president then was convicted of plunder.the filipino electorate has the greaest fault on the fate ofv the philippines,elections here are won by propaganda and popularity not by platforms of governance.

    May 16, 2010 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
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