Encroachments to the road right of way (RROW) is quite common along many roads in the Philippines including national roads. While the DPWH has jurisdiction over the latter roads in as far as construction and maintenance is concerned, the agency does not have the resources to secure these roads. Such responsibility lies in the hands of local government units (LGUs), which are tasked to regulate land use at the local level ahead of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). Following are a few photos I took in one trip to Palawan where we did a few road safety audits of a national highway.
This RROW marker that doubles as a kilometer post along a highway in Palawan is located a few meters from the carriageway. While there are no developments or encroachments along this section, such markers could easily get lost.
This one’s already behind the fence (and house) of a family encroaching on the RROW. Many of these people establish homes and even informal businesses (vulcanizing shops, makeshift stores, etc.) along the road with LGUs often turning a blind eye and in many cases even allowing people to register the lands as their own when in fact these have been reserved for future expansion of the road.
For most of these people who have encroached on the RROW, their actions are not illegal given that in many cases, the LGUs let them do so in order to develop areas along the road. The problem comes later when these developments and residents begin constricting traffic along the highways and demanding compensation when they are asked to move out to give way to road widening projects. It seems that the best approach is still for LGUs to do their part in regulating settlements along roads so that most if not all will locate outside the RROW. In other cases where it is obvious that development will come much later, it should be clear to settlers that the property is not theirs and will not be theirs, and that they would have to go sometime in the future when the road needs to be widened. This is not an easy thing for LGUs to accomplish but they should have system in place for this since it will considerably be more difficult later when the roadside has been settled with more permanent structures.