Briones: The roundup

On the go

I GUESS the question on everyone’s mind is, “Why now?”

And don’t try to be cute and tell me it’s because travel restrictions have been lifted throughout the island since the whole of Cebu was placed on modified general community quarantine because I don’t think that’s a valid enough reason.

Granted, people from Cebu City were barred from entering the province when the former was the epicenter of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country during the early days of the lockdown.

But still, why now?

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) could have tasked local government units to remove the homeless and beggars from the streets at the beginning of the pandemic, but it didn’t. Instead, the agency left them to fend for themselves out there in the open for more than six months.

In fairness, I know of some barangays in Cebu City that housed them in gyms and fed them. But they couldn’t afford to do that indefinitely so the homeless and beggars found themselves back on the streets.

I remember early on making a joke about their resilience. How they would be immune to Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, considering the other diseases they’ve been exposed to while living outdoors.

Then I realized we don’t even know how many of them fell victim to the disease because their numbers were never documented. That their plight is not a laughing matter.

Perhaps now you understand why I’m reacting the way I am.

And don’t give me this cock and bull story that the DILG is worried about them getting infected.

I think the nice mayor of Cebu City was more forthcoming in an earlier report. He described the sight of the homeless people as “hugaw,” or ugly.

Don’t be too quick to judge Labella, though. The article was originally written in Cebuano. Maybe the English translation didn’t capture the nuance of his statement, which ended up making him sound so callous or so like Imelda.

But if he really meant what he said then at least he was telling the truth.

Admit it. Authorities are removing the homeless and beggars because they have become public eyesores. That’s much better than say, they’re only looking after the latter’s welfare because that’s a load of, you know.

And so on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, personnel of the Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification and Enhancement, the City Social Welfare and Services and the Cebu City Medical Center conducted a “One Time, Big Time” roundup with the help of local police.

The City Government called it a “rescue” mission.

Now why do I feel like retching whenever I hear that word used?


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