‘DSWD event not for APEC’
THE Aquino administration admitted that the Department of Social Welfare and Development will hold a “workshop” about the government dole program during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but denied it was meant to hide the homeless from visiting dignitaries.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman after Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon revealed on Friday another plan to “hide the homeless” like the government did during the visit of Pope Francis last January.
Like the Palace claimed during the papal visit, Valte said the workshop on the government dole was already scheduled long before the APEC summit and it was just coincidental that it was set on the same days in November when 21 heads of state will be in the country.
“That has been ongoing for some time already,” Valte said in an interview over state-owned dzRB. “Even before the pope came, we already had the modified [conditional cash transfer] and even before this APEC meeting we already had the modified CCT.”
“The hard data in our reports will show that we are not doing those things just because we have foreign visitors who are arriving in the Philippines,” Valte added. “Maybe it would be better if Congressman Ridon will look at the program.”
But Ridon actually learned of the workshop during a congressional hearing on the DSWD budget and it was actually a DSWD official who admitted that there was indeed a workshop set during the duration of the APEC summit.
Ridon asked about another “vanishing act” to be orchestrated by the DSWD after the agency admitted last January that it rounded homeless families during Pope Francis’ visit last January and brought them to a resort in Batangas.
Soliman, for her part, said the nation will celebrate National Children’s Day in November and she said it was a timely opportunity to generate awareness on child protection.
She said one activity during that time is a “Talakayang Pambarangay,” or village forum, to be led by the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children and parents who are already beneficiaries of the government’s dole program.
The forum will serve as a venue to create awareness among parents on positive discipline of children and to teach them the different approaches to protect their children from various forms of abuse, Soliman said in a statement.
“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.
“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,” Soliman added.