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DSWD: No plan to hide Manila street families during APEC

MANILA, Philippines – The government will not "hide" homeless families during the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) Leaders' Summit in November, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Saturday, October 10.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman made the statement to assure groups who have expressed concern that authorities would gather families living in the streets of Manila in preparation for the country's hosting of the important international event from November 18 to 19.

“It is their right to be protected and to be given services. This is why we continue to provide them with health, shelter, and educational assistance,” said Soliman.

She said the DSWD is partnering with local government units in efforts to reach out to homeless families. Soliman stressed they will not be "hidden" during the APEC Summit, but will "participate in various nation-building activities for the national children’s month.”

The claims were made by groups which recalled the alleged disappearance of street families during the papal visit in January this year. The DSWD later on clarified that the families were only brought to a resort as part of their Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Some Filipinos however, criticized the DSWD for “hiding” the street families from Pope Francis.

The APEC Leaders' Summit on November 18 to 19 will be followed by the National Children’s Day. This year’s theme is “Pamahalaan at Komunidad, Magka-Isa ! Pang-aabuso sa mga Bata, Wakasan Na! (Government and community, cooperate! End child abuse now!)

The celebrations will include talks among barangays (villages), in hopes of educating more families on how to combat child abuse.

“Keeping children off the streets is one way to protect them from abuse and from becoming potential prey of syndicates. Homeless families especially street children are vulnerable and they become doubly vulnerable if they remain on the streets,” Soliman said.  Rappler.com