The city government of Manila has rescued dozens of street dwellers and vendors during a massive clearing operation on Roxas Boulevard and adjacent roads.
A city official clarified the operation is not part of preparations for the visit of world leaders participating in the upcoming Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit this November.
Mayor Joseph Estrada said the operation was led by the Manila Department of Social Welfare in cooperation with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and supported by the Manila Police District and other city hall offices.
“We’ve been doing this operation simply because we want them off the streets, where they are vulnerable to accidents and crimes. We’re merely protecting them,” the mayor said.
As to the illegal vendors, Estrada said he is not against them trying to earn a living, but pointed out that major thoroughfares such as Roxas Boulevard must, at all times, be cleared of hazardous and traffic-causing obstructions.
MDSW-City Rescue team leader Lindsay Javier said the joint City Hall-MMDA operation netted a total of 48 street dwellers and 10 ambulant vendors on push carts and pedicabs.
The Oct. 26 raid also resulted to the confiscation of two “kuliglig” (motorized pedicabs) and six pedicabs the vendors also use as their makeshift homes.
Three bicycles were also seized from a group of “solvent boys,” Javier added.
The rescue units started the “reach out and clearing” operation from the City Hall, sweeping the stretch of Kalaw Avenue up to the US Embassy and Baywalk on Roxas Boulevard, onward to the Cultural Center of the Philippines up to the corner of Vito Cruz, and back to City Hall through Taft Avenue.
“This is a massive clearing and rescue operation targeting not only vagrants but also mobile vendors who sleep on the street in their carts or pedicabs,” MDSW chief Nanet Tanyag said.
The operation has resulted in the rescue of more than 4,000 individuals since February this year, according to Tanyag.
Asked if this is part of government efforts to clean up Roxas Boulevard in time for the Asean Summit, Tanyag replied: “No. It has nothing to do with it. We’ve been doing this almost every day.”
Of the 48 street dwellers, 29 were turned over to the city-run Manila Boystown Complex in Marikina City. The 19 adults also underwent background check by the police, and none had previous or pending criminal records.
On Oct. 24, the MDSW chief said they “rescued” 45 homeless people in a series of operations in the vicinities of Bonifacio Shrine and City Hall, along Kalaw Avenue, Roxas Boulevard service road, Quirino Avenue, and Vito Cruz.
The rescued street people are turned over to the Manila Boystown for temporary safekeeping. The street children will be enrolled at the Fugoso Integrated School that offers Alternative Learning System for free, according to Tanyag.
At either facility, Tanyag said the street people are given decent shelters, clothes, foods, medicines, and proper healthcare; as for the adults, they undergo development activities such as skills and livelihood trainings and basic business management courses.
Upon their release, the adults may also be referred to the Public Employment Service Office for jobs, Tanyag added.