Hidden from the Pope?: Netizens, DSWD speak up on #streetkids
MANILA, Philippines – Netizens questioned the circumstances surrounding the "disappearance" of street kids and their families in Manila during the 5-day papal visit.
MovePH, the civic engagement arm of Rappler, hosted a Twitter and Viber conversation on Wednesday, January 21, about the street families brought to a Batangas resort by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The trip was part of the orientation and registration for DSWD's Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) program, according to Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman. The MCCT program provides cash grants – for education and health, and house rental assistance – to families with "special needs," including the homeless.
Netizens, however, questioned the trip, asking whether the activity was deliberately done to "hide" the street families from Pope Francis.
@MovePH parang bahay lang, saka lang mag aayos pag may bisita.— Debbie Manalili (@debbiemariz) January 21, 2015
The money used for the trip came from DSWD-NCR's funds under its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Soliman said.
On Viber, social media producer Margie de Leon quipped, "It's not exactly the best time to go to the beach, climate-wise. It's cold!"
DSWD joined the Twitter conversation, clarifying that the families were selected by local government units (LGUs) as new beneficiaries for the MCCT program.
Soliman has also clarified the issue, saying that aside from attending the MCCT program orientation, the families were also taken out of the streets for their own safety.
Through its Twitter account, the agency reiterated Soliman's explanation:
@MovePH This is a regular reach out activity of DSWD & LGU to keep children free from dangers on the streets.— DSWD (@dswdserves) January 21, 2015
On Viber, Rappler reporter Bea Cupin, who covered security preparations for the papal visit said: "Remember that security preparations were not only for the principal - the Pope - but also for the crowd that greeted and followed him around.
According to the DSWD, the families left Batangas on January 19, and were "turned over to local government units for case assessments. " Some were brought back to their rented homes, while others proceeded to DSWD facilities like Reception and Action Centers and the Jose Fabella Center for temporary shelter.
However, netizens pointed out the need for long-term solutions for street families, suggesting actions the government should take:
— Joel Abelinde (@apojoe) January 21, 2015
— Kessica Bersamin (@kessicabersamin) January 21, 2015
— DSWD (@dswdserves) January 21, 2015
@MovePH Address root problems. Educate parents+kids. Provide sustainable jobs and subsidized housing. Prioritize education.— fritzie d. rodriguez (@fritzdrodriguez) January 21, 2015
@MovePH Lessen the tax, so people have more buying power...— artee caparas (@RTCaparas) January 21, 2015
What are your thoughts on how the government is handling the issue? How can you help street kids and their families? You can share your comments and suggestions with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. – Rappler.com