'We did not hide the street children from Pope Francis through the camp-out activity in Batangas' –DSWD

January 23, 2015 11:33 pm 

By Leilani S. Junio

MANILA, Jan. 23 (PNA) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) clarified on Friday that the camp-out activity for the street families and children held in a resort in Batangas was not intended to hide them while Pope Francis was on a five-day visit to the Philippines.

According to DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman, there was no truth on the allegations that the camp-out activity was conducted to hide the plight of poverty-stricken street children and their families in Metro Manila.

“First of all, poverty cannot be hidden and was seen himself by Pope Francis. We have no intention of hiding the street children and their families. The Pope had seen (the face of poverty) through the children under the care of Bahay Tuluyan Foundation and also in Tacloban (in case of survivors of typhoon Yolanda),” Soliman said.

She explained that the camp-out activity has been conducted annually since 2013 as part of the social preparations the DSWD is working out to include street families under the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) program.

Soliman said the activity was also designed for the street children and families along the Roxas Blvd. area in Pasay City to ensure their safety and prevent them from suffering discrimination and abuse during the strong influx of people wanting to see Pope Francis while passing through Roxas Blvd.

She added that contrary to reports that about 500 street families were taken to the Batangas resort, only 99 street families were actually included in the camp-out activity.

She explained that as local government unit (LGUs) have been turning over to them the children rescued in the streets, they decided it would be better if instead of placing them temporarily in facilities that are not adequate, they include them in the orientation activity for the target beneficiaries of MCCT to help them understand more about the program and how they can benefit from it.

She said that the camp-out activity in the resort meant to orient the street families like the parents and children about their role and obligation in improving family relationships under the family development sessions and what is MCCT all about.

The DSWD chief added that the street families will be among those that will benefit from the DSWD's program of renting a small room for them by next month to enable them to live in a place away from the street.

As of now, more than 2,500 street families are being served by the agency under the MCCT program.

In the listings previously conducted by the agency, more than 11,000 street families were identified for the program by the LGUs.

MCCT is a modified version of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) poverty alleviation program to ensure that the poor or those left behind in the economic growth will be part of the inclusive growth.

Like in the regular CCT program, the MCCT beneficiaries will be given cash grants for education and health of the children of the family benefiting from it.

The children will be enrolled in Alternative Learning System (ALS) mode of education by the Department of Education (DepEd) and will also follow the condition on visiting a designated health center as an investment on the education and health of children.

The program will ensure that children of the MCCT beneficiaries will finish their studies like the regular CCT children beneficiaries which will have the greater “fighting chance” to enhance their lives or will not be victims anymore of the repetitive cycles of poverty. (PNA)

SCS/LSJ

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