DSWD to look into situation of homeless families taken to Boystown

QUEZON CITY, Nov. 19 -- The transfer of homeless families from Manila to the Boystown in Marikina City was solely an initiative of the local government of Manila, said Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman on Monday.

The DSWD made this statement in reaction to allegations that Manila street dwellers were removed in time for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting from November 18 to 19.

Soliman said that DSWD-National Capital Region will coordinate with the City Social Welfare and Development Office of Manila to look into the situation of the families at the center. “If the families who were taken to the Boystown want to leave the center, then we will help the LGU reintegrate these families into their communities by giving them appropriate services.”

A team from DSWD-NCR already went to the center to check on the status of the families.

She assured that both the local and national governments have no intention to detain the street dwellers, but to provide them services to ensure that they will not return to the streets.

Follow-through to livelihood assistance

Meanwhile, as a follow-through to the livelihood assistance that was provided to the street vendors along Kalaw Street in the City of Manila, Soliman engaged the vendors anew to determine how the government can further assist them.

Around 25 street vendors who were former homeless families and are now beneficiaries of the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Families (MCCT-HSF) met with Soliman.

MCCT-HSF currently has 4,071 registered beneficiaries in the National Capital Region.

Mericel Quintan, a beneficiary, said that before her inclusion in the MCCT-HSF, she used to borrow money from the “5-6”, an onerous money lending scheme, as capital for her stall but shared that she still had to pay the high interest for her loan.

“Ngayon po ay di na ako kumuha ng pera mula sa 5-6 dahil nabigyan ako ng food cart. ‘Di na rin po ako kinakabahan na madampot dahil sa illegal vending (Now, I have stopped borrowing money from 5-6 because I was given this food cart. I also need not worry about being apprehended due to illegal vending),” Mericel said.

Another vendor, Norma Sarsarani, said she is happy that she can still continue selling using the food cart she received. She is thankful for the rental assistance, even saying that she will work double-time to be able to continue to pay the rental fee of their house.

Aside from the livelihood assistance, other families were also given employment as park attendants at the Luneta Park in Manila. Ricardo Merengga, another MCCT-HSF beneficiary, now has a regular job as a park attendant since he was absorbed by the management of Luneta Park.

The insights given by the beneficiaries will be used as basis in enhancing the program, Soliman said. She announced that she has already made instructions for the construction of bigger food carts and the distribution of bigger umbrellas.

Soliman assured the vendors that their stalls have permits from the Manila local government. (DSWD)

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