The Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) announced earlier in the week that beggars and the homeless would be removed from the streets by Independence Day, or June 12, 2023, in compliance with Mayor Michael Rama’s directive.
According to the report of Superbalita Cebu’s Arnold Bustamante on June 7, the CCPO is working together with the Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification and Enhancement or Probe, the anti-mendicancy board, the task force on street children, the City Legal Office and the Department of Social Welfare and Services “to carry out the mayor’s beautification project in order to make Cebu City like Singapore.”
How can you categorize the problem of mendicancy and homelessness under a beautification program?
It’s a problem the City can’t just sweep under the rug.
So let’s just call a spade a spade, shall we? This whole thing is for show.
What will the 500 guests who are expected to attend the Independence Ball say when they see the hungry and the filthy on the streets? Won’t that ruin their appetite? How then are they going to consume the food worth P1,200 per person set aside for their dinner?
CCPO Director Col. Ireneo Dalogdog said they’ve already evicted people living under bridges and sent them to their respective hometowns. They temporarily “detained” the others at the Noah Complex in the South Road Properties.
By the way, I am using the word “detain” because I doubt the homeless had a choice.
Before I continue, let me get off my high horse.
To those who have been reading my columns over the years, you know there is no love lost between me and the homeless, particularly street children who have laid claim to a portion of J. Urgello St. in Barangay Sambag 1.
I have called the barangay and the police on them several times as they kept me and the rest of the neighborhood wide awake until the wee hours of the morning with their antics.
But then I just stopped and let them be. Because I had an epiphany.
I should be counting my blessings like having a roof over my head instead of complaining about human beings who have to fend for themselves at such a young age. I’m sure these kids, if given the choice, would rather be inside a cozy home fast asleep with a full stomach instead of being forced to grow up really quickly.
I was able to ask some of them about their plight, expecting a sob story straight out of an MMK episode. And they didn’t disappoint.
Some of them have a parent or both parents in jail. Some have been abandoned. Some have parents who are addicted to illegal drugs and are too wasted to take care of them. And there are some whose parents have to work and therefore cannot take care of them.
I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty... oh wait! That’s a song.
But you do get my drift.
You cannot address mendicancy and homelessness by treating them like eyesores.
Nongovernment organizations and government officials have spent years trying to address the problem. But as long as there is poverty, and the population keeps on growing, and the income gap continues to widen, these social issues will continue to exist.
What’s the City going to do next? Build a giant wall to hide squatter areas? It has been done before, but we all know it was just a waste of public funds.
At the end of the day. It was all for show. The illegal settlers were still there. They were just hidden from public view.
I’m pretty sure Mayor Michael Rama’s heart is in the right place. In fact, I admire him for doing what others would consider to be political suicide.
In 2022, he ordered the immediate removal of settlers within the three-meter easement of waterways to prevent casualties during heavy rains.
But this recent assurance from the CCPO director leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Maybe something got lost in translation. Maybe.
June 09, 2023
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