The Kaantabay sa Kauswagan (or Partners in Development) Program is a social
amelioration program primarily designed to empower squatters and slum dwellers which
comprise some 25 percent of the city population residing in 21 urban barangays of Naga
City. So far, it has resettled 2,017 families to relocation sites with a combined area of
33 hectares; secured homelots for 789 squatter families; and upgraded 27 urban poor
communities which host around 2,700 families.
Anchored on the belief that the urban poor is a vital sector in Naga's quest for total
development, the program addresses the sector's two main problems --(1) the absence of
security of land tenure, and (2) the lack of basic infrastructure and facilities in their
communities-- primarily by adopting a "partner-beneficiary" perspective in
dealing with clients. This approach sees the urban poor both as a program partner and
beneficiary, and as such is compelled to actively participate in every step of problem
In response to these major problems, the Program focuses on two main components: (1) land
acquisition which provides as sense of permanence to the urban poor's occupancy of a
property, and (2) urban upgrading which provides decency, ease and comfort to daily life
in the blighted areas.
By institutionalizing a functional mechanism for permanently settling land tenurial
problems between landowners and land occupants; elevating living conditions of the urban
poor through on-site upgrading projects for blighted urban poor communities; establishing
intra-city relocation sites for victims in extreme cases involving eviction and
demolition; and providing them livelihood opportunities by introducing a livelihood
component to the Program, the Kaantabay sa Kauswagan was able to shape new strategies in
cushioning negative impacts of urbanization.
These strategies include accessing various modes of land acquisition--like direct
purchase, land swapping, land sharing, community mortgage, and resettlement;
institutionalizing a separate window catering specifically to urban poor clients of the
lending arm of the local government; and evolving a financing scheme anchored on
internally-generated resources of the beneficiaries.
Before Kaantabay sa Kauswagan (or Partners in Development) Program came into being, Naga
was grappling with a serious urban poor problem which is characteristic of any other
rapidly urbanizing city in the Philippines and even the world.
A bitter fruit of urbanization, the obtaining situation in Naga was then distinguished by
adversarial relationship and frequent animosity between the City Government, the urban
poor and private landowners. Cases of squatter eviction and ejection are rampant, and
demolitions are commonplace.
The problem has been worsening over time. In magnitude alone, around 5,000 of 19,500
households in 1990 were classified as squatters and slum dwellers, almost double the
figure in 1980. Not only the absolute number but also their share in the total population
had risen. In 1980, the National Statistics Office reported that only 14.6 percent of
households in Naga were squatters; during the program's inception in 1989, they already
account for 25 percent of the total.
Their number notwithstanding, the sector is mostly unorganized. In all of Naga, there were
only 9 urban poor associations when the program was born. On the other hand, majority of
individual urban poor families go on with their lives--and face attendant threats of
ejection and demolition--practically in their lonesome.
Previous local government administrations share a part of the blame for this situation.
For so long a time, they had been indifferent to the plight of squatters.
This indifference primarily shows in the following:
- The blighted condition of 27 urban poor communities in Naga which lack basic services
such as shelter, potable water, streetlights, pathways and drainage.
- Government's passivity in the face of squatter ejection and demolition by private
landowners which masks its tacit approval of such measures to eradicate these urban
Six years after Kaantabay sa Kauswagan was launched, Naga's urban poor have been empowered
and mainstreamed back in society, primarily through a fair, credible and effective
tripartite mechanism for solving land tenurial issues that the Program has
Beyond sheer numbers, Kaantabay sa Kauswagan's single most important achievement to date
was the institutionalization of such a mechanism that effectively addresses pressing
problems of the urban poor sector. This mechanism brings together (1) government agencies,
(2) urban poor associations and their allied NGOs, and (3) private landowners to solve
standing tenurial problems with finality. Today, all land problems involving the urban
poor in Naga are referred to and pass through this mechanism.
Program impact is also indicated by the following:
- INSTITUTIONAL. From only 9 in 1989, there are more than 70 urban poor associations in
Naga today belonging to two citywide federations. They are amply represented in the city
legislature, the City Development Council, as well as the Housing and Urban Development
Board, Naga's main policy-setting body on housing matters.
- LAND ACQUISITION AND RESETTLEMENT. As of yearend 1994, the five-year old Program has
made possible the disposal of 33 hectares of private and government-owned lands to 2,017
landless families. This means that it had already addressed the land tenurial concerns of
about 50 percent of the urban poor in Naga. Further, an additional 25.4 hectares had been
secured for the remaining unserved families.
- URBAN UPGRADING. Moreover, the Program facilitated the renewal of 27 blighted urban poor
communities in Naga, where multimillion-peso worth of basic infrastructure like pathways,
drainage canals, shallow wells, public faucets, streetlights and multipurpose pavements
were provided and/or upgraded.
- Finally, the Program is acknowledged today as a model urban poor program among
Philippine local governments, and has already attained a measure of international
recognition as well.
- Institutionalized a fair, credible and effective tripartite mechanism for solving
land tenurial issues
- Organized the urban poor sector from only 9 organizations at the outset to more than 70
- Represented the urban poor sector in local policy-setting bodies, including the City
- Disposed 33 hectares of private and public land to 2,017 landless families
- Addressed the land tenurial concerns of about 50 percent of Naga residents in just five
years of implementation
- Facilitated the renewal of 27 blighted urban poor communities that house around 2,700
- Evolved its own financing scheme utilizing internally-generated resources that now
amount to about P500,000
- Is acknowledged as a model urban poor program among Philippine local governments today
The success and sustainability of the Kaantabay sa Kauswagan Program is anchored on the
ADOPTION OF A "PARTNER-BENEFICIARY" PERSPECTIVE. This approach sees the urban
poor both as a program partner and beneficiary, compelling them to actively participate in
every step of problem resolution.
STRATEGY OF FOCUS. At the top management level, a fundamental strategy is the strategy of
focus that delimits coverage only to the urban poor sector in Naga. Client identification
is facilitated by a single criterion: presence of land tenure problem.
Over the past six years, the program also chose to prioritize land tenurial concerns over
shelter. This stemmed from the fact that while 72 percent of Naga residents own their
house, only 44 percent actually own their homelots. But with land tenurial issues expected
to be resolved by 1998, the program is now beginning to set its sights on shelter needs.
ROLE DEFINITION AND SPECIALIZATION. This stems from the recognition that there are certain
areas where NGOs do much better than government. Thus, in community organizing and social
preparation of beneficiaries, the City Government has relied on an NGO partner--COPE
Foundation--which specializes on these tasks.
POLICY OF DEALING WITH ORGANIZATIONS, NOT INDIVIDUALS. This compels interested applicants
to take the initiative in organizing themselves, thus facilitating community organizing.
INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS AND PARTNERSHIPS
The Program's bias for the periphery is reflected in the TRIPARTITE APPROACH TO PROBLEM
RESOLUTION observed by program partners. Basically, this involves (1) city and national
government agencies; (2) urban poor associations aided by their NGO allies; and (3)
private landowners. This was further institutionalized through the Naga City Housing and
Urban Development Board, the main policy-setting body on housing concerns in the city.
Under this setup, national government agencies extend operational and financial support to
the program's land acquisition thrust. Urban poor associations signify their support and
commitment through their willingness to negotiate, get organized and raise equity for land
acquisition and provide labor for urban upgrading projects. Finally, landowners show their
cooperation through a willingness to explore more peaceful means of settling tenurial
disputes as an alternative to squatter ejection and demolition of their shelter.
SUPPORTING SECTORAL STRATEGIES
At the project level, various supporting strategies were shaped, falling into three broad
1. ON-SITE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES. These are basically aimed at facilitating transfer of
land ownership from government and private owners to individual occupants. They include:
DIRECT PURCHASE. This involves purchase of an occupied land by the City Government itself.
The occupants then amortize the cost of their individual homelots to the City Government.
LAND SWAPPING. This involves the exchange of an occupied property with another of roughly
equal value without occupants. The occupants then amortize the cost of their individual
homelots to the new owner.
LAND SHARING. This involves working out a mutually acceptable arrangement over a property
that allows both the landowner and the occupants to satisfy their respective needs.
COMMUNITY MORTGAGE. This allows the wholesale purchase of an occupied property using the
community mortgage financing program of the national government.
2. OFF-SITE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES. These are focused on the establishment of safety nets
both for victims of eviction and demolition and those who want to have their own homelots.
ESTABLISHMENT OF RELOCATION/RESETTLEMENT SITES. This involves acquisition of properties,
consolidating and developing them as relocation sites for victims of eviction and
demolition. In cases where the consolidated lot is underutilized, the site is opened for
voluntary resettlement of urban poor families.
NATIONAL GOVERNMENT AUTHORIZATION TO SUPERVISE DISPOSAL OF PUBLIC LANDS. This involves
seeking authorization from national government to supervise disposal of public lands,
where urban poor families can be prioritized as beneficiaries.
3. SUPPORT STRATEGIES. These address peripheral program areas, including capability
building and program sustainability. They include:
INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF SEPARATE URBAN POOR WINDOW UNDER THE COMPREHENSIVE LIVELIHOOD
PROGRAM OF THE CITY GOVERNMENT. This facilitates action on and release of urban poor
ESTABLISHMENT OF A SEPARATE URBAN POOR TRUST FUND. Aimed at financial stability, this
trust fund was built on CMP origination fees, amortization for resettlement sites and sale
of other government properties. As of June 30, 1995, it had an outstanding balance of
PROACTIVE POLICIES FOR SUSTAINABILITY, REPLICABILITY
To address expected increase in demand for program services, the following were adopted:
LANDBANKING. This refers to the acquisition of more public and private landholdings which
will serve as future relocation sites. In 1994, a total of 25.4 hectares was secured.
STRONGER SHELTER PROGRAM. This involve piloting and adoption of new approaches to mass
housing--row houses and tenements at the urban district, core shelter units at the
INTENSIFIED LIVELIHOOD COMPONENT. This is anchored on the principle that "giving a
man a fish enables him to live for a day, but teaching him how to fish enables him to live
for a lifetime."
ENHANCED FINANCIAL RESOURCE MOBILIZATION. This refers to a financing scheme evolved by the
program that utilizes internally-generated resources. Here, the City Government uses the
Urban Poor Trust Fund to lend as much as P10,000 per beneficiary to augment their equity
in homelot purchase.
SHARING WORKSHOPS. This refers to local and national fora where the program is presented
for possible replication by other local governments. Already, two national workshops of
the League of Cities of the Philippines and a regional sharing have featured the program.
Disposed 33 hectares of private and public land to 2,017 families
Addressed the land tenurial concerns of about 50 percent of Naga residents in just five
years of implementation
Facilitated the renewal of 27 blighted urban poor communities that house around 2,700
Organized the urban poor sector from only 9 organizations at the outset to more than 70
Represented the urban poor sector in local policy-setting bodies, including the City
Evolved its own financing scheme utilizing internally-generated resources that now
amount to about P500,000
Implemented a landbanking strategy that acquired 25.4 hectares for future program needs
Is piloting new approaches to mass housing to strengthen shelter component
Institutionalized a fair, credible and effective tripartite mechanism for solving land
Is acknowledged as a model urban poor program among Philippine local governments today
Mr. D.C. Nathan Sergio/UPAO Coordinator
City Hall Compound, J. Miranda Avenue
City Government of Naga
Hon. Jesse M. Robredo/City Mayor
Juan Miranda Avenue
Community Organization of the Philippines (COPE) Foundation
Ms. Jo Vicente/COPE Coordinator
De Leon's Apartment, Calauag
Naga City Urban Poor Federation (NCUPF)
Mr. Honesto Perez/NCUPF President
Fraternidad Street, Zone 2, Tabuco
National Housing Authority (NHA)
Mr. Marciano Pineda/NHA General Manager