MAYOR Joseph E. Estrada dismissed allegations that the city government’s ongoing cleanup drive to rid Manila streets of vagrants is a crackdown against beggars and vagabonds.
The local chief executive insisted that it’s a rescue activity to save them from constant danger on the streets. The accusation came out when the Manila Department of Social Welfare (MDSW) recently rounded up 22 homeless individuals in the areas of Quiapo, Balic-Balic in Sampaloc; Mendiola, Santa Mesa, Nagtahan, Santa Ana, V. Mapa, Lacson, Arlegui and the vicinity of Manila City Hall.
Seventeen of these rescued persons were unattached minors and a family comprised of four individuals, and one minor who was immediately sent back to Quezon City.
“We don’t treat them as criminals; they are being rescued because they are exposed to danger and illness. That’s why I always order to save them,” Estrada said.
According to MDSW chief Nanet Tayag, the rescued street dwellers were fed, bathed and subjected to medical checkup at the Reception and Action Center.
They were then turned over to the Manila Boystown Complex in Marikina City for their temporary shelter, she noted.
MDSW Supervising Officer Lindsay Javier added that their rescue was carried out by the city’s social-welfare personnel with the help of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Manila Police Department personnel and the barangay officials in the areas.
The city mayor explained that the rescue operations were not the first in his term. He already ordered the removal of street dwellers in compliance to his Executive Order (EO) 10.
Per the EO, Estrada directed all city government departments to conduct a regular rounding up vagrants to attain a zero street-dweller status in Manila.
Tayag said her office has been regularly rounding up homeless individuals, sometimes even thrice a week, with a big number of homeless people removed from dangers on the streets.