Squatters, the Philippines & You – Buying Land in the PH

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Author: Reekay V.

Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat and spent 1999 living in Vietnam.

Share with me my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Hopefully you find my observations helpful in your own adventures.
— Reekay


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  2. Kinda reminds me of a tale where some gipsy travellers moved into a field next-door to a neighbourhood, caused a whole heap of problems, but left when the flammability of the grassland was discussed… Police rarely work, no matter the country… so not surprised fire etc work better… when you have to go, you have to go…

  3. Due Diligence, establish your perimeter and build a wall. There are lawyers that specifically deal with the process of establishing your perimeter. They have goons on call to deal with all possible scenarios. As difficult as it may be to understand, the basic human right to exist and survive for the moment far outweigh property rights. Look up squatters’ rights in the US. This right is much more prevalent in countries where the indigenous population was not exterminated by colonizers. If you’re going to buy any form of raw land in the Philippines, find a local real estate lawyer. Their rates are %10 of US lawyers. Save yourself some money and let your pinay do the talking. Like anything else, you’ll get what you pay for (in relative terms). Land is relatively more expensive in the Philippines because there isn’t much of it to go around. You’ll find that 300sqm of land in a subdivision is more expensive than 3200sqf of land in most places in the US. Happy investing folks, and always remember to leave yourself an out.

  4. You say that the judge say “Where are they going to go?”, but what is the basis of that statement? I’m curious to know what the Philippine law actually states WRT squatters e.g. is there some kind of squatters rights, which does exist in some countries. Also, is it just undeveloped/uninhabited land or does this logic apply to a house/flat as well?

  5. Believe it or not that can happen in uk & has!!! im talking about breaking into some one elses home to be Squatter

  6. I jumped with this conversation I have relatives live in visaya island, they have lots of property some of the properties not fenced and people started squatting . When time for them to used the land ,the squatters doesn’t want too..they have to pay them to moved out and relocated beside that they treat-end them and my relatives had yo hired a security..
    when you have property put fenced and have family check it always.. Filipino squat when they see empty property and they think no one owned it .. beware !!

  7. That’s because you’re trying to infuse Western thinking ownership with indigenous believes the land belongs to No One you only get to use it while you’re alive is no such thing as ownership of land

  8. It’s an eye opener Henry, but an large aria of land is going to set you back a lot,even before building starts, the other thing ,is these so called Squatters can go back to where they came ,they must have come from somewhere,so to say where are they going to go beggars belief

  9. Just being born on that land in that country you have natural rights to the land

  10. If you are single it is probably best to just rent in your name only….. If you are Married/or in a committed GF scenario best is just rent…. higher risks is buying land/house etc… But number one…. Do what is in your best interests first/only….

    Don’t risk yourself the financial abuse of your Filipina GF/Wife and/or family…
    This is not your country so, its best to tread lightly…

  11. LoL squatters in this case have right, how can you own a Land, how can you own a country, when its all made upp BS…

  12. Reekay, my family has a huge track of land in Pangasinan. After we migrated to the States, a community of squatters built houses without permits on it with the permission of the barangy captain who illegally subdivided our land and sold it to the squatters. My aunt is currently in the Philippine courts battling to get them out. The barangy captain got arrested and jailed. My aunt just got back from the Philippines. I’ll give you an update on what’s going on.

  13. So let’s do another hypothetical. What if Squatters go into a restaurant after hours and then the restaurant owners come in the next day to open the restaurant and see the squatters there. It’s virtually the same thing. They are illegally trespassing and should be removed off the premises. A restaurant can’t afford to lose business because some homeless people are loitering and won’t leave. So why should a development company lose money because squatters won’t leave?

  14. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but property owners lose possession of their land from time to time to squatters in the US too. It’s called “the doctrine of adverse possession'”. The laws vary from state to state, but in some states, a property can be lawfully taken in as little as 5 years if the squatter follows specific requirements. Putting up a fence or posting the property “Private Property – No Trespassing” is helpful, but it is not enough to safeguard the property. The property owner must take proactive measures to ensure that no one can reside on the property for a period of 30 days or more. After they have resided on the property for 30 consecutive days, the property becomes their “domicile” and a legal eviction suit must be filed and processed through a court and a legal Order of Eviction must be obtained. In some states, if you, the property owner, do anything to block the domiciled resident from the free use and enjoyment of the property, YOU, are committing a Misdemeanor and when the Police come, it will be YOU that gets dragged off in handcuffs.

    So, you see… the laws in the Philippines aren’t really “weird” or unusual. They pretty much follow the laws of most developed nations. Most people just don’t know what those laws are. In the US, “Sovereign Citizens” are big on squatting and taking lands under the doctrine of adverse possession, or trying to.

  15. Hey Reekay almost identical situation in Argentina i suspect this is allowed by the government because they have no money or solution to house relocate the squatters identical type government interactions in both these countries

  16. The Philippines does a lot of stuff backwards. I have been standing at a cashier paying for items and had Filipinos cut in front of me and try to talk to the cashier or pay for something while I am still conducting my business transaction. They also will kill you if you embarrass them in public or talk bad about their business.

  17. Great video Henry! If I was the owner of that land, I would have no tolerance for squatters and would have brought a large bulldozer to flatten out my land. Which confirms my thinking that the Philippines IS a third world country with third world thinking! But that’s me!

  18. That’s so crazy it’s like who’s on first with Abbott and Costello. I see materia here for a great sit comedy …. Whatever happened to the property with your pig farm did you just walk away from it?

  19. Guess you haven’t followed the squatter issue in the US. Real estate owners have to take months and years to remove squatters.

  20. Don’t have that in Thailand. The squatters would have a big problem. Thais don’t put up with that stuff.

  21. Wow, pretty screwed up. Glad I’m living in Thailand. I don’t think they have that here, never heard of it. Anyway, no squatters on our property.

  22. Great vid !!! Lol I’ve lived in 2 different nice places the last 5 yrs. & both hoods have little squatter communities usually up on a hill and/or at the end of a street. One of them was where they located after Typhoon Yolanda hit few yrs. ago. Yur so correct on the mindset & how skewed it is esp. considering squatting is often accepted as permanent lifestyle…

  23. Go thru a atourney get a clear title survey and give notice before buying anything and don’t pay taxes before you got legal possesion then fence it in and tell the borengy captain and record

  24. I started watching this video but had to quit, it pissed me off so much I couldn’t watch anymore. I stopped at the police siding with the squatters

  25. Video time 17:01: With in 10 minutes ago (Video time 16:00) I told my Filipina wife that if we buy a land and somehow there are squatters moving in before we can put up a fence, there will be a fire (scorched land technique) which is effective way to remove anything that You don’t want there to be.

  26. Costa Rica also has squatter issues also US law makes squatting laws sometimes difficult to enforce.

  27. This reminds me of the seemingly common arrangement of a drunken 20 year old Filipino crashing into the side of my car, destroying HIS scooter, and through a series of Philippine justice exchanges… I must buy HIM a new scooter!

  28. Tell the owners to post the property with “NO TRESSING SIGNS” PRIVATE PROPERTY subject to arrest.

  29. you never finished the story about the pig farm, what happened? did the lady leave ? or did she take ownership?

  30. The non-owners, squatters, trespassers, thieves truly had illogical thinking.

  31. When it comes to government owned land, I think the Philippines should enact something similar to the American Homestead Act of 1862.

  32. Baguio famously is an urban core (the hillside) where squattors took it all over and the government didn’t do much about it.

    It’s part of the reason why sleeping on the sidewalk homelessness is rare here. People squat a lot instead

  33. We bought 1000 sq m in 2011, My wife and I had her sister put up a wire fence. We got here in 2017. Only a cow was grazing on the lot. My wife insisted on a wall. I relented and we spent about 16k USD on a 10 foot wall with a steel gate. The lot behind us had squatters and the road to them ran right through our lot. They left but somehow our next door neighbor had his house burned down, see Philippine Dawn for a set of videos on how we built the house. My wife said the same thing you are saying and I now see how important the wall was. My wife is the reason things worked out. She knows the way it is here.

  34. WOW. How can this thing be allowed to happen. This came right on time bro cause I’m looking at a property near Urdanetta.

  35. I have a Filipino friend who is working here in the US, he bought a house in his home town from an elderly Filipino man. The property was in the elderly man’s name alone (inherited from his parents). The sale was completed and money exchanged, then the elderly man’s estranged wife came in and blocked my friend from taking ownership of the house. Evidently she had CONJUGAL ownership rights thru marriage and she wanted a piece of the money paid. After numerous visits to the Barangay Captain an agreement was unable to be reached and the sale fell thru, and it took months for my friend to get his money back. For some time though, my friend stressed that not only would he not get possession of the house, he would loose all of his money too. It was a very stressful situation for him and really soured him on the idea of property ownership in the Philippines.

  36. Just stay away from land. Western logic does not apply there. Land ownership has no meaning in the Philippines that is probably part of the reason foreigners cannot buy land there. It is close to the Chinese way of thinking that land belongs to the country not individuals. Who are foreigners to tell them their legal system is wrong, we are just guests with no legal rights. Most developing countries are the same.

  37. Squatters are a product of an impoverished , overcrowded , overpopulated country with no respect for private property. Everything about illegal squatters is everything about slums , shantytowns their difficult removal easy votes , corruption and life in The Philippines .

  38. Now I understand the shanti town fires… As long as there’s major effort made to get everyone out before the smoke and fire reaches the squatters.
    it’s almost seems like the only way.

    other way would be to bulldoze every little shack as soon as possible when the squattter leaves it unattended even for 5 minutes but that would probably cause an uproar so yea… fire is the only way

  39. I just make sure aint no one on it, but thats crazy, and that fire that happened, would happen again ijs… 29:20

  40. Omg… Other than buying the land and immediately living there, I see no other answer… Trying to change the thinking of another country’s people seem like your going to pull your hair out..
    Out thinking the people in a way for them to understand.. if you have more than another then the community believes you should share until you tell them they can live on your land… I’m at a loss

  41. Yes… Two sides of the coin, and now, it’s even getting blurry in the US! Check out the homeless situation in South Portland, Oregon! Homeless drug addicts are successfully driving away homeowners, small businesses, even giants like Cracker Barrel and Wal Mart! And courts and LE agencies are indifferent. I heard of a National Guardsman in Florida, whose house was taken over by drug addicts, while he was deployed to Iraq. Cops and courts were reluctant to do anything. Then, a well known motorcycle club offered to intervene. Problem solved, in less than half a day! Similarly, a property near to me was plagued with squatters on a primo piece of property right on the highway. Until one night, a shotgunner showed up, raised all kinds of hell, with one squatter seriously wounded. Who was that mystery man? Who knows? Anyhow, next day, a fence, gate and lock goes up, along with a printed sign in elaborate legalese, NO SQUATTING! Sometimes, might DOES make right. THAT, they’ll understand. Just make sure no fingers can be pointed back at you.

  42. A property without a wall or a guard is not properly taken care of and someone has to pay to do so.

  43. Now here is a surprise for you. We have a similar law in Australia! It is called inverse possession. When somebody uses a piece of land for 21 years they have a claim on that land. A case in Tasmania where Neighbour A had allowed B to use part of their land, and they were allowed to use part of C’s land. When A went to sell the land, B made the claim successfully inverse possession. In turn A stated they would never pull that on C . I understand the basis of the law is when returned soldiers after WW1 were granted farmland, often too small a parcel to be viable when we have the inevitable droughts as we do in Australia. Add to the fact that many of these soldiers were not from a farming background, so failure was inevitable. As they walked off to seek work in the cities they would generally allow a neighbour who was staying on (maybe the son of a farmer) to use their land. Fast forward a few generations and nobody has a clue who the original nonresident owners were, so the inverse possession laws were established to solve this impasse. The answer is to reoccupy your land at least briefly and get the other person to vacate it, from time to time to restart the 20 year clock.

  44. i recently viewed several plots of land in maolbaol area, another important point is making sure the land has a clean title e. g. no taxes owed etc via a good lawyer, seems the safest way to me is to rent only.

  45. A family friend of neighbours had exactly the same issues with squatters in a province region of Cebu..and solved the problem by dumping the very smelly waste of Animal meat processing factories by the truck loads just on the boundaries of the land..The shocking smell obviously worked to perfection.

  46. I had my Brother-in-law checking my condo during the Covid episodes just because of possible squatters. He told me the same thing about night time fires but that’s how it is in the Philippines and some parts of America!

  47. Since when foreigners are allowed to buy land in PH? And I mean people like you and me, not corporations or businesses.

  48. Oh yes, Reekay, you have to pay them to get rid of them, and they know this and will hold out until it happens. good that you bring this up, because I don’t believe anybody has covered it. when I look at land, first thing I want to know is who and how many are sitting on the land.

  49. It is not wise for foreigners to buy property in the Philippines unless it is condo. if it is not condo, the land can not be under foreigners name. I lived 26 years ago in the Philippines and I saw some foreigners even killed by their wives to own the property plus land has no security unlike condo( mostly). I really do not recommend buying land .may be condo it is better choice for us. Totally owning things in the Philippines is headache.

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