A CATHOLIC bishop on Thursday slammed the government’s plan to hide the homeless during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit by giving them money to rent a temporary home from Nov. 15 to 20.
In a radio interview, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo confirmed the Department of Social Welfare and Development was distributing P4,000 each to homeless people so they could live elsewhere and be hidden from view during the summit.
Pabillo said it was insensitive of the government to hide away the poor for the benefit of foreign visitors.
“Their solution is temporary. They want to show the visitors that there are no poor people, but why can’t we find a permanent solution for our poor people? One that doesn’t require us to hide them every time there are visitors?” he said in an interview on the Church-owned Radio Veritas.
The bishop also expressed dismay at the expense—put at P7.9 billion—of hosting the Apec meetings here.
“It is okay if they are spending money for the benefit of the people. If the government is spending money for infrastructure and cleaning the roads just to boast to our visitors, this is such a waste of money,” Pabillo added.
In 1996, when the Philippines hosted for the first time the Apec meeting, Pabillo said, the country only spend P649 million for the event.
The bishop also appealed to the leaders of the 21 member economies of Apec to create programs for poor people, particularly in Asia.
Earlier, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman was planning to hide the homeless away in resorts again, like she did during the Pope’s visit.
The Palace immediately came to Soliman’s defense, saying she was not hiding them, but holding workshops about the conditional cash transfer, the administration’s dole program.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the program was ongoing, and that it was a coincidence that the “workshops” were being held at the same time as the Apec Summit.
During the Pope’s visit earlier this year, the Pasay Social Welfare Department admitted that they will rounded all street children, just before Pope Francis’ visit in January.
About 100 homeless people were taken away from Roxas Boulevard and brought to the Chateau Royal in Batangas—purportedly to attend a seminar on the CCT.
On Thursday, the Metro Manila Development Authority advised motorists and commuters to brace for traffic gridlock in Manila and Pasay City from Nov. 16 to 20, saying major thoroughfares will be closed in connection with the Apec Summit.
“Traffic will still be a concern even though there are no classes and government work, because the private sector is still there. Maybe there are some who will volunteer to close their shops and some employees who will take the whole week off for a much-needed vacation,” said Emerson Carlos, chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority.
The MMDA is now conducting traffic simulations given the routes to be used by the heads of state attending the summit.
Carlos said his men have already placed thousands of plastic barriers and cones along the stretch of Edsa and Roxas Boulevard in preparation for the event.
Under the traffic management plan, both directions of Roxas Boulevard from Airport Road in Pasay City to Manila Hotel in Port Area will be closed to traffic as early as Nov. 16 until Nov. 20.
Though Malacañang has declared the Apec duration as non-working days, Carlos said there are still some employees of companies who will continue to report for work.
During the summit, the two inner lanes of Edsa from Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City all the way to SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City will be exclusive for the use of Apec delegates.
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras appealed to the public for understanding for the inconveniences during the summit.
“They [Apec delegates] have their own protocols … they are used to a certain amount of security and leniency and flexibility. Thereby that protocol is something we have to give to them when they come here,” he said.
“I am appealing to all the motorists, all the people. We are hosting a very big event. So many important people that we need to make sure are going to be safe and can move around normally in a way they are able to move. So we really like to appeal, if you don’t really have to do anything absolutely urgent in these areas, then [just don’t go there],” Almendras said.
The MMDA will deploy more than 3,000 personnel to provide security for 21 leaders of different countries participating in the meeting.
The Manila International Airport Authority on Thursday confirmed that at least 15 heads of state have already submitted their schedules to the Apec National Organizing Council.
Arrivals will begin on Nov. 16 with most of the leaders arriving on the 17th.
Departures, on the other hand, are spread across Nov. 19 and Nov. 20.
Airlines are expected to announce further changes in their flight operations as more heads of state inform the Apec NOC of the schedules that they will be keeping.
Commercial flights may be subject to delays, diversions and even cancellations from Nov. 16 to 20. Periodic runway closures will also be in place as the aircraft of the heads of state arrive and leave Manila.
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