BACOLOD CITY: Amid reports that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) allegedly hid street children in Metro Manila during the recent visit of Pope Francis, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the agency should be given an opportunity to explain.
“We should give them an opportunity to explain. Even the Malacañang agreed for an inquiry. So let’s wait for the inquiry,” said Tagle, who was in Bacolod Monday to receive the Fides Award conferred on him by the University of St. La Salle.
The street children and their families were brought to a posh resort in Batangas while the Pope was visiting the country.
“That’s what I’ve heard (from the news),” Tagle said, adding that the agency in-charge is claiming that is not the real reason for the “outing.”
Tagle said the Pope Francis was able to visit a shelter for street children.
“If there’s any intention to hide the street children from him, (he would not have met them) They were not hidden. We were able to bring the Holy Father to (see) the street children,” he said.
He added that the pope was able to interact with them and hear their stories.
“My only concern is this – even if it’s not for the pope’s visit, maybe we should look for ways to respond to this situation especially in big metropolitan centers,” he pointed out. “In Manila, there are lot of street children and street families. It’s not something that we can be happy about.” .
Tagle said that “more permanent solution is needed for the problem and not just cosmetic.”
“It’s not only street children but street families. A whole family is living on the street. This calls for concerted effort,” he pointed out.
Tagle said that “this problem is very complex. There’s no easy solution. We need a collaboration of everyone – from the government, business sector, school, non-government organization, people’s organization and faith-based community.” PNA