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It’s impossible to hide MM’s 11,000 street families—Sec. Soliman

12:00 AM February 14, 2015

This refers to the Inquirer’s Jan. 26 editorial titled, “Hiding the poor.”

Allow me to reiterate our stand on the issue: The Department of Social Welfare and Development did not hide street children and their families during the papal visit.

The out-of-town family camping for some 100 families or 427 individuals in Chateau Royale, Nasugbu, Batangas, on Jan. 14-19 was part of the regular activity of the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Families (MCCT-HSF). It was not meant to hide them from Pope Francis.

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We do this once or twice a year.

This time, there were discussions with the national and local governments to hold the reach-outs to street families in order to secure them from potential risks of being out on the streets by providing them appropriate intervention and a safer venue to stay. Participation in the activity was, however, voluntary.

Joining the family camp is integral since it is the initial orientation of potential MCCT-HSF beneficiaries to assess their eligibility for the program.

MCCT-HSF provides a complete package of assistance to street families, including responsive shelter programs, with access to social services, and economic opportunities for the improvement of their living conditions.

The rapid assessment, orientation and registration activities of street families under the program are regularly done. Since 2012 up to the present, some 2,479 families have been registered and being served by the MCCT-HSF in the National Capital Region.

Out of the 100 families who joined the Batangas activity, 75 families agreed to return home to their families and relatives. These include five families who have rented their house to stay through the assistance of MCCT. The remaining 25 families were encouraged to stay in the Reception and Action Center in Manila and barangay facilities for close monitoring of the local social welfare offices.

The choice of Chateau Royale as the venue for the family camp went through the proper procurement process, using the prescribed procurement guidelines, contrary to the allegation that a travel agency was hired to negotiate with the venue.

The DSWD’s procurement service and bids and awards committee posted the requirements to secure quotations from interested bidders and ensure transparency and competition in the bidding process. Upon evaluation, Chateau Royale was determined as the lowest calculated and responsive bidder. Hence, the contract was awarded to the resort for P4,296,600 for six days and five nights, for 600 persons.

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The government cannot hide the poor, but it can work to respond to their needs, which is the objective of the department. We cannot hide poverty. The Pope saw this as he landed at Villamor Air Base which is surrounded by a lot of shanties. There are 11,000 street families in the metropolis; it is impossible to hide this number.

—CORAZON JULIANO-SOLIMAN, secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Batasan Pambansa Complex, Constitution Hills, Quezon City

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TAGS: DSWD, letters, Papal visit, Poverty, streetchildren
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