Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said that arresting beggars on the streets amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is not an option in the capital city.
Domagoso said he would rather rescue and take care of them in the city government’s facilities.
The city mayor was reacting to the order of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Martin Diño to apprehend street dwellers because they may be spreading the virus.
“I think, with due respect to Undersecretary Diño, baka maganda ang kaniyang iniisip, pero kung ako naman dito sa lungsod ng Maynila, mas gusto kong kunin sila, yakapin sila, bigyan nalang sila ng malasakit hangga’t makakaya namin (maybe his idea is good, but for me here in the city of Manila, I would rather rescue them, embrace them, be compassionate towards them as long as we are capable), the way we have been doing it for the past seven months,” Domagoso told reporters on Monday.
“Maybe the national government has a different perspective about it. We look at them as human, human beings,” he added.
In an online news forum on Sunday, Diño said police officers and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should round up street beggars to prevent them from spreading COVID-19 to others.
Locally-stranded individuals, displaced jeepney drivers, and other people who lost their jobs are among those seen begging on the streets amid the pandemic.
“Ang batas ay batas. Dapat iyan hinuhuli ng mga pulis, dapat dinadala sa DSWD kasi baka hindi mo alam, baka ito na ’yung nagkakalat ng pandemya dahil unang-una, exposed ito (The law is the law. They should be arrested by the police and brought to the DSWD because you never know, maybe they are the ones spreading the pandemic because first and foremost, they are exposed),” he said.
“Wala dapat sila sa lansangan. Pandemya tayo ngayon. Walang pinipili ang pandemya (They should not be on the streets. We are in a pandemic right now. The pandemic does not choose anyone),” he added.
Since the onset of the community quarantine in March, the Manila Department of Social Welfare has been rescuing street dwellers and other individuals who were stranded in Manila and have no place to stay.
They are brought to the city government’s facilities where they are fed, bathed, and given medical check-ups and shelter. The MDSW has also helped some rescued individuals go back to their homes.
The Manila mayor said even street dwellers are members of society who deserve service from the government.
“Hindi kasalanan ang maging palaboy. Baka may pagkukulang sila sa buhay nila sa nagdaang panahon. Pero sa pamamahala, sila’y mamamayan din (It is not a sin to be a street dweller. Maybe they had shortcomings in their lives, but in governance, they are still a part of society),” he said.