BAGUIO CITY– Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman cited local governments have the responsibility to rescue street families and provide them with descent basic services before they will be sent back to their places of origin.
Soliman underscored beggars, physically and mentally-challenged persons, Badjaos and semi-nomadic indigenous peoples and their families, who roam around urban centers in the different parts of the country to seek for better sources of livelihood must be spared from being exposed to hazards of their trade, particularly untoward incidents that might compromise their safety and security.
“Priority to be rescued are women and their children so that they will be spared from danger and must be immediately provided by the social welfare and development workers with the necessary comfort,” Soliman stressed.
In the case of the Badjaos whose population in Luzon have tremendously increased over the past several years, she cited local governments must follow the example set by Palayan City, Nueva Ecija whereby the local government provided the Badjaos that came to their place with housing equipped with school centers and provided sources of livelihood to the people who came to their place simply to beg.
Soliman branded the use of women and children in begging as violation of the rights of the women and children to better life, thus, the need for local governments to rescue the street families from being exposed to hazards of urban life when performing their trade.
According to her, the DSWD in coordination with concerned local governments in selected areas in the country were able to establish relocation areas for the Badjaos provided that such areas are close to the seashore to allow males to be able to sustain earning a living for their families through fishing while other family members are looking for other sources of livelihood through the assistance to be extended by the concerned government agencies.
Soliman said local officials have the initial obligation to look after the welfare of street families who are apprehended by law enforcers and social welfare officers in their respective areas of jurisdiction before facilitating their being brought back to the places where they came from.
She emphasized one of the criteria in judging the performance of local governments in addressing the concerns of women and children in their places is their ability to address the proliferation of street families and how local officials attend to their basic needs while staying under the care of the local governments that are attending to them.
“It will no longer be limited to the presence of local councils for the protection of women and children but it will also include the implementation of programs geared towards protecting the interest of street families, particularly the semi-nomadic indigenous peoples who are in their areas of jurisdiction,” Soliman said.
Secretary Soliman said the government is doing its best in effectively and efficiently implementing social welfare and development programs which must be downloaded by the concerned local governments to the grassroots level through the participation of the people in the conceptualization, planning and implementation of social services interventions beneficial to the greater majority of the populace.