Window dressing for Asean is over

By: Nestor Ramirez April 18,2017 - 09:24 PM


Less than two weeks after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meetings here in Cebu, streets dwellers who were hauled by government men to keep them away from the eyes of foreign delegates are back on the streets and in their favorite abode—the skywalks.

While driving to the office early Monday morning, I could see people sitting and sleeping on the floor of the skywalk near a mall in Fuente Osmeña. A similar scenario was seen on the skywalk located in front of the Department of Health (DOH) regional office along Osmeña Boulevard.

The same situation is happening on the skywalk in front of Abellana National School and Cebu Normal University (CNU) where people were spending the night on the walkway of the s kywalk and were very visible to anyone on the ground.

Although this skywalk in front of the Social Security System (SSS) building does not have a roof to make it habitable for the street dwellers at night, it was not spared from being used as temporary dwelling for the informal settlers.

Last Monday morning, there was an old woman at the foot of the skywalk on the ground using the staircase of the skywalk as her temporary cover.

The hauling of the street dwellers especially those who are using the facility to pass the night at the skywalks was significantly criticized by many sectors as inhuman and an inappropriate approach by the national and local government in dealing with poverty and street dwelling.

We could not but admit that the presence of street dwellers in the city streets is a testament to how local and national social welfare agencies failed in giving solutions to poverty and street dwellings, not to mention the informal settlers who are squatting on public and private lots.

Although it is notably wrong to keep the street dwellers off their usual habitat at a time when we have foreign visitors, at least it signifies that the government is doing something about its mandate. We just hope that they would proceed in being proactive in dealing with the problem.

But the recurrent presence of street dwellers especially those who perch themselves on the skywalks at night has confirmed the opinion of many that the hauling of the street dwellers were just for show to make the city appear clean and amiable on the eyes of foreign dignitaries and their vacationing families.

The government agencies in charge of handling this marginalized sector of society succumbed to the criticism that they were just window dressing the city to hide the city’s astonishing problem on poverty which the government miserably failed to alleviate.
This is another palliative measure that the government is fond of doing in dealing with problems.

This made me question the government’s sincerity in its effort to help the street dwellers when implicitly the government admitted to the concerns raised by the public that the hauling was just window dressing and that they are not serious about their job.

This time, I hope that the government would not blame the generosity of the public who give alms to the street dwellers because they are just showing the value and the virtue of charity.

The public who gave alms did not encourage begging; they were taking matters into their own hands following the failure of the government to take care of the poor.

Despite the presence of the ordinance imposing penalties on those who give alms, many will continue to take the risk of being penalized than to see impoverished people on the streets until the government does its part in taking care of the less fortunate.

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TAGS: Asean, Cebu, CNU, DOH, dressing, health, over, Skywalks, Social Security System, Window

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