Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has tapped local government units (LGUs) in the drive against squatting syndicates and professional squatters, saying the active participation of LGUs is crucial in the national government’s anti-squatting campaign. “It is the LGUs who can immediately identify and stop these criminal elements at the first sign of illegal activity,” he said. To encourage LGUs to participate, Binay, the Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), launched the National Drive Against Professional Squatters and Squatting Syndicates’ (NDAPSSS) Best Practices Award for 2012. The NDAPSSS, established under Executive Order 153 series of 2002, is an inter-agency task force composed of 11 national government agencies with HUDCC as the lead agency. The contest is open to LGUs with existing departments/groups tasked to address the housing concerns of their localities. The housing czar said that since its establishment, NDAPSSS has been engaged in capacity-building programs that aim to increase awareness of LGUs and government housing project beneficiaries on their role in combating squatting syndicates and professional squatters. “We conduct seminar-trainings and community dialogues that help the participants detect the modus operandi of squatting syndicates and their cohorts, including detection of fake and spurious land titles,” he said. The Vice President further said that winners of the contest will receive plaques and cash awards that may be used to strengthen their programs on anti-squatting. “For details of the contest mechanics and for more information, interested participants may contact the HUDCC Legal Services Group/ Anti-squatting Group at telephone numbers (02)812-0735 and (02)817-6995 or you may visit their office at 9th and 15th floors, BDO Plaza, Paseo de Roxas corner Makati Avenue, Makati City,” he said.