DAVAO CITY, Philippines – There will be no keeping of street children in order to please the sight of the major streets of Metro Manila during the conduct of the 50th ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nation) Foreign Minister’s Meeting that will start on Wednesday, August 2 until the 8th of this month, a senior official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development assured.
DSWD Undersecretary Mae Fe Templa told Davao Today in an interview on Tuesday afternoon that street children will be in their respective activity centers spread in various parts of Metro Manila.
“These are not isolation centers,” Templa emphasized.
She also emphasized that activities in these centers are not intended only during the conduct of the ASEAN activities but have been ongoing since its establishment last year.
“Nakakalat yan sa Manila as regular service not for this season alone,” Templa said.
The agency, during the administration of former President Benigno S. Aquino III, was highly criticized when street children were discovered detained with adult criminals to clear the streets of Metro Manila during the visit of Pope Francis.
The accusation was denied by former DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman.
“Definitely not! That’s not our method of work,” Ancheta pointed out, adding: “Working children remain in their daily routine with their families and DSWD in cooperation with local government supporting them in their efforts to survive.”
She said: “The activity center is part of the services to children when we assumed office… besides there have been attempts of NGOs creating such to help children in their psychosocial needs.”
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police National Capital Region chief Director Oscar David Albayade told reporters in a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday that DSWD and other related agencies will take care of the street children as part of the preparations for the ASEAN activities.
“No, the street children will be taken care of by the DSWD. Of course, ‘yung lead agency diyan is the DSWD with assistance from our office and probably from MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority),” Albayade said when asked by reporters if taking care of children and ambulant vendors is part of the responsibilities of the police during the preparations.
He hinted, though, of the possibility that street children would not be seen in major streets in Metro Manila during the ASEAN events as they might be taken to children centers or facilities of the DSWD.
“I really don’t know. We have no arrangement as of this time with DSWD. Wala namang nire-request ‘yung DSWD. And if you will see naman, ‘yung dadaanan nila (ASEAN officials and delegates), basically the Roxas Boulevard, wala naman na tayong nakikitang mga batang nagkakalat sa kalsada diyan,” Albayade said. (davaotoday.com)