141 street dwellers ‘rescued’ ahead of APEC meet
Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - November 10, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 141 street dwellers have been “rescued” in Manila by personnel of the city’s social welfare department ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next week.

Arnold Pangan, officer-in-charge of Manila social welfare department, said the street dwellers were rescued in the city’s six districts since Monday.

Earlier, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) denied it was hiding homeless familes in Metro Manila from the sight of world leaders attending the APEC summit from Nov. 18 and 19.

Pangan said the operation was conducted in coordination with the DSWD, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Manila Police District, city heath department and the Manila barangay bureau.

He said 18 of those rescued were not from Manila.

They were fed, bathed and subjected to a medical checkup before they were brought to the Jose Fabella Center in Mandaluyong City.

Pangan said street children from Manila were taken to the Boys Town complex in Marikina.

He said the purging of street dwellers in Manila had nothing to do with the APEC summit.

“It is part of Mayor Joseph Estrada’s continuing campaign to cleanse Manila of street dwellers,” Pangan said.

For his part, Sen. Francis Escudero criticized the government for shelling out funds to hide street dwellers in Metro Manila for the APEC summit while failing to provide permanent shelters to survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.

Escudero, who is running for vice president in next year’s elections, hit the administration’s move to keep the homeless away from the sight of the visiting world leaders.

Among the international dignitaries coming to the Philippines for the APEC meetings are US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Earlier, the DSWD reportedly gave homeless families P4,000 each to rent temporary homes during the APEC summit.

Malacañang, however, denied this was window dressing and said it was part of the DSWD’s modified conditional cash transfer program.

“That’s about P660 a day for the six days that they have to go into hiding so that our foreign visitors will not see the true state of the poor Filipinos,” Escudero said.

He said the temporary housing assistance given by the DSWD was worse than the similar action taken by the government when street dwellers were brought to a resort in Cavite during the visit of Pope Francis to Manila in January.

“Before, they said the street children were given seminar, now it’s straight away cash (for the homeless),” Escudero said. – With Marvin Sy, Mayen Jaymalin, Ding Cervantes

ACIRC ARNOLD PANGAN ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION BOYS TOWN DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT DING CERVANTES FRANCIS ESCUDERO MANILA METRO MANILA PANGAN STREET
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