Filipino families more likely to have a cellphone than a toilet at home

Informal settlements alongside the Pasig River. Screen shot from GMA News report (below)

Filipinos are more likely to own at least one cellphone than have a working toilet in their home, a study has found.

Research by the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission found that 84 per cent of Filipino families own a cellphone while only 70 per cent have a working toilet.


A report on GMA News [watch below] said many of these families were informal settlers who lived alongside waterways, which they used for washing and defecating.

The report featured a family of six living in Tondo, Manila, who owned five cellphones, but had never had a toilet of their own.

“There is just no room for a CR (comfort room),” said mother-of-four Robelyn Aguilar. “We have no other choice than to use the river.”


More than 8,000 informal settlers crowded alongside the Pasig River have been relocated since 1999. The Water Code of the Philippines and the Metro Manila Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance prohibits building homes or any structure right up against the waterway.

Jose Antonio Goitia, the zoning commission’s executive director, said that just last month 810 pigs were removed from illegal sties built alongside the Pasig.

Open defecation and other forms of domestic waste make up 60 per cent of pollutants detected in the river. “Of course, without a bathroom, where else can this waste go?” Mr Goita asked.

The government is aiming for a “zero open defecation status” by 2022.

Dr Rafael Guerrero III, of the Department of Science and Technology, is backing plans to provide affordable composting toilets. These environmentally friendly units would make use of African Night Crawler worms to break down waste, and would cost no more than 500 pesos.

This technique, known as “vermicomposting” removes at least 90 per cent of harmful bacteria and converts human waste into fertiliser.

Earlier today, we reported on a new survey that found 10 million Filipino families consider themselves to be poor. Read more here