Estrada: Manila regularly ‘rescues’ street dwellers
MANILA Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada described on Sunday as a “band-aid” solution the national government’s roundup of street people ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting.
But at the same time, he defended the city social welfare department’s “rescue” of street dwellers in Manila and their temporary transfer to the Manila Boystown Complex in Marikina City.
Estrada made his views known in a statement he issued after international group Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD) and the Manila City government of arbitrary detention over the “mass arrest” of homeless people days before the Apec summit.
This is not the first time that the DSWD has been criticized for allegedly keeping the poor away from public view. Before Pope Francis’ arrival in Manila last January, it also rounded up street dwellers and took them to a resort in Batangas province for a “seminar.”
“I firmly believe that as part of fulfilling our mandate to care for the citizens and help them have productive lives, we should implement a permanent solution to the issue on street-dwelling families. Anything short of that, like hiding these people during special events in our country as critics claimed, would just be a ‘band-aid solution’ or temporarily covering the wound or the problem,” Estrada said.
He stressed, however, that Manila has been regularly rounding up street people, sometimes even twice a week, even before the Apec meeting.
But according to the HRW, the operations started on Nov. 9 with hundreds of homeless people removed from the streets during the government’s “clearing operations.” Some were children while others were adults operating food carts.
It called for their release, saying their “removal and detention” were violations of their basic human rights.
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