Help for informal-settler families whisked away from the streets of Metro Manila during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings should be continued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to prove that it is not just for show, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said.

Hundreds of street dwellers living along Roxas Boulevard and nearby areas have been placed in a facility in Manila days ahead of the APEC event as part of the security preparations for the arrival of world leaders and delegates, but the DWSD denied this.

Reports said each informal-settler family was given P4,000 to rent temporary housing for the duration of the APEC meetings, but later on ended up in Manila Boys Town Complex in Pandacan, a facility for orphans and out-of-school youth.  

The DSWD, however, explained that the financial aid was part of the agency’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the agency’s flagship anti-poverty scheme.

 “No matter where you hide them, these poor street dwellers will continue to be homeless after all the APEC leaders and delegates have left,” Escudero said.

“Now, there is an opportunity for the DSWD to do what is right if only to show that it’s sincere in helping the poor even beyond APEC. This will also dispel the notion there is an unwritten government policy to clear the streets of homeless people whenever VIPs visit the country,” Escudero added.

Last January, the DSWD marshaled Metro Manila’s street dwellers to a resort where their board and lodging were provided for in the guise that they all had to attend seminars on livelihood projects.

“But after the Pope’s visit, there they were again on Roxas Boulevard, not many appearing to be more wise because of the purported seminars the DSWD conducted,” he said.

According to Escudero, the frontrunner in all pre-election surveys for vice president, the DWSD should make use of the billions of pesos in budget it received for its 4Ps program.

In 2015, the DSWD received P107.9 billion in budget allocation, of which P62.3 billion was for CCT. The department is seeking P103.8 billion for next year, and about P62.7 will go to poverty alleviation program.