Beggars plucked off streets for papal visit

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They’re back Street  Children play along Roxas Blvd. in Manila after a brief “vacation” at a resort in Batangas where they were taken during the four-day visit of Pope Francis.  Photo by Ruy L. Martinez

They’re back Street
Children play along Roxas Blvd. in Manila after a brief “vacation” at a resort in Batangas where they were taken during the four-day visit of Pope Francis. Photo by Ruy L. Martinez

The Philippine government came under fire on Friday after admitting that hundreds of homeless people were taken off Manila’s streets and put into luxury accommodation during Pope Francis’ recent visit, when he preached compassion for the poor.

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Lawmakers demanded an explanation after Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman revealed that 490 beggars and homeless people were taken to air-conditioned log cabins at a resort near Manila for the January 15 to 19 visit.

“The Pope would have wanted to see the Philippines, warts and all. Let us not pretend that we are a First World country,” Rep. Terry Ridon, who is initiating a congressional inquiry, said.

Soliman said the street people, many of whom live in shanties and hammocks tied to palm trees along the Manila Bay seafront, were removed from  Roxas Boulevard before the visit.

A record crowd of six million flooded the bayside road last Sunday to hear Pope Francis celebrate Mass in nearby Luneta (Rizal Park).

But the homeless were instead taken to plush accommodation at a hilltop resort south of Manila during the trip, before being deposited back on the streets hours after the pontiff’s departure last Monday.

Renato Reyes, secretary-general of the left-wing group Bayan, criticized the decision, saying the government was “whitewashing poverty.”

But Soliman said the homeless would have been “vulnerable to syndicates and discriminated (against) a lot” had they stayed in the area.

“You cannot hide poverty. When the Pope landed, the first thing he saw was the shanties by the river,” she told Agence France-Presse.

The Chateau Royale resort where the homeless people stayed offers swimming pools and rock-climbing facilities, and usually charges up to P24,000 for a room per night, according to its website.

Soliman said the government did not pay the full price, without providing details.

Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said Soliman should face a congressional probe to explain “why she committed such an affront to the dignity of these streetchildren and homeless people who were reportedly whisked away from the streets of Manila to a resort in Batangas.”

“The problem of extreme poverty, as evidenced by the beggars and streetchildren, is a very real problem that needs to be addressed. This problem should not be swept under the rug.

Hiding them does not solve the problem of vagrancy. Now that the Pope has left, they are back on the streets, fending for themselves,” he added.

“My advice to Secretary Soliman is for her to continue what she just did—take care of the beggars, streetchildren and the homeless, feed them and give them a place to stay. This is the reason why they have an almost P100-billion budget to help the poorest of the poor,” Atienza said.

AFP

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5 Comments

  1. apolonio reyes on

    Nuon martial law, binabakuran ng mataas para hindi Makita ang tinitirahan ng mga illegal dwellers sa Metro Manila & subburbs ( Manila, Pasay, Quezon City, Caloocan, Paranaque, San Juan, Pasig etc. ).
    Ngayon nag up-grade na si Sekwatary Dinky Soliman at pinatago nya lahat ng mga pulubi at pamilya sa isang luxury resort sa Batangas na mayayaman lamang ang nakaka punta para hindi makita ng Santo Papa ang symbol kahirapan dito sa atin at pinagtangol pa sya ni Usekwatary Abigail Valte na hindi naman nila tinago pagka’t alam naman at malalaman din ito ng Santo Papa at ng buong mundo. Tama, Abi pagka’t sabi ni Ted Failon sa TV Patrol ay nasa news na ng Time magazine ang estorya nyo ni Sekwatary Soliman at 500 PULUBI.
    Yuon naman pala, eh bakit nyo pa ginastusan ng milyon piso ang mga ito nang bumisita ang Santo Papa at ngayon binalik nyo din maging pulubi sa kahabaan ng Roxas Blvd.?? Pinapakita lang nyo mga ungoy ang walang pakundanagn pag LUSTAY NG PERA NG BAYAN. BAKIT DI NA LANG NYO SILA KINULONG MUNA SA NINOY AQUINO STADIUM NA MALAPIT AT DI KAYO GAGASTOS NG MILYON. Di ba Bayan?

  2. If the Officials were able to round up all these homeless and beggars during the Papal visit, President Aquino should be able to issue an executive order to relocate them permanently into rehab centers or self sustaining communes similar to Israels model of Kibbutzim These model to solve homelessness and poverty has been very successful in Israel and is now a model in some African countries.where there is a refugee problem. It is a communal living with initial government subsidy with a goal of independence and self sustainability With the money spent on housing where no significant results are notable because of corruption, I suggest somebody in an influential position should take note of this suggestion.and pass it along to the President.or Congress. This officials should also consider outsourcing the operation of our Airport amenities to Shangrilla or four Seasons to take it out of the worlds worst International Airport.Disney corporation can be outsourced to help with the traffic, infrastructure, transportation and waste management of Metro Manila, There should be a blueprint, a Marshall plan for the entire country with a goal to be one of the best in cleanliness, beauty,and environmental friendly,Poverty can be alleviated if there is less corruption and more government programs to get the poor into financial independence.Too much bureaucracy and corruption is the problem why we are very slow in progress. Outsource, Partnership with other Nations to solve our inefficient system, innovation, trying the winning modalitiies that has been tried. This is the solution for the Philippines to go forward.

  3. Roldan Guerrero on

    DINKY SOLIMAN had been bypassed more than 30 times before getting confirmation of appointment by the Commission on Appointments. This means she is not the right person for the job but however forced herself to the agency because of so much money to STEAL in DSWD. DAP must have been used to bribe the members of Commission on Appointments for the sudden turn of events that after so many rejections she made it. ANG KAPAL NG MUKHA NG DWENDE NA ITO! IF Soliman has a little bit of SELF DIGNITY left in herself, SHE SHOULD RESIGN WITHOUT DELAY! PNOY must be aware of what is happening. It might have been done through his order. BOTH PINOY AND SOLIMAN ARE NOT NEEDED IN THIS GOVERNMENT. FOR THE GOOD OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE, BOTH OF YOU SHOULD EVAPORATE IN YOUR POSITIONS!