“SENDING beggars and homeless straight to jail is not my cup of tea. Hindi kasalanan ang maging palaboy.”
Thus said Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, as he nixed the idea of arresting street dwellers who end up begging on the streets.
“Baka maganda din ang iniisip nila pero ako, mas gusto ko kunin na lang sila,” Moreno said, when asked if he was amenable to the idea broached by a national government official to have the beggars arrested for fear they may be spreading coronavirus since they do not observe protocols like wearing of face masks.
Moreno, a former informal settler, added: “Maybe those from the national government have a different persepective about it but sending these people to jail is, to me, another thing. It’s not my cup of tea.”
The mayor said that for almost eight months now, the city government of Manila, through the social welfare department headed by Re Fugoso, had been taking care of hundreds of homeless people in three facilities.
“Hindi sa pagbubuhat ng bangko, since nagka-pandemya ay inakap natin ang mga homeless and unwanted individuals. We have been feeding them for nearly eight months already and a medical team checks on them, too. It’s not too comfortable but definitely a lot better than living on the streets,” he said.
Apart from free food and toiletries, the homeless being cared for by the city government are also treated to regular free movie showing and zumba sessions. Food and clothes donations received by the city are also distributed to the homeless.
Moreno said the homeless probably go to Manila upon learning that the city provides the basic needs of those rounded up and that those who would want to go to their native hometowns are being assisted. Two hundred such families have already been sent to their respective provinces last week.
However, the mayor added that the city government is all for instilling discipline among everyone in the city, including the homeless.
“True, nagdi-disiplina kami, no question. We want to instill discipline but in governance, kailangan me puso. Mahaba ang pasensiya ng pamahalaan. It’s not easy to address this. Action should be done but it should be in a humane and compassionate manner,” Moreno explained.