Note: this letter to the editor was published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) on 19 January 2006
“Round them up and put them elsewhere away from public sight”, thus, the swift solution found by the authorities in Davao City to get rid of vagrants and street children – the disadvantage.
The reason was, not only that they’re unpleasant to the visitors sight for the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF), they are also seen as potential use for â€œcriminalsâ€� or even â€œterroristsâ€�.
Not only that these poor people are disregarded, they were also being publicly humiliated as “possible accessories to the criminals and terrorist”, by public officials who are supposed to ensure that their constituents’ Constitutional “right to adequate housing, food and security” are fully enjoyed.
Is this how Republic Act 8425 or the Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation Act should be implemented? It is a complete disregard, undermines and mockery of the Act written by the blood and suffering of the poor Filipino people.
The local government poured in a budget of p20 million to host the activity, well, maybe this include expenses to haul roaming vagrants and street children to “appropriate” places though. While the city may gain for hosting the ATF, the strong message it sends to the vagrants, street children and the general public would deeply penetrate the fabric of our generally disadvantage populace society.
The message is clear: “they are unpleasant to see”, thus, to isolate and to restrict them of their Constitutional freedom of movement for security reasons is a justifiable act. It is a cause for a public concern â€“ being a poor and the consequences of your desperate condition is used against you to deprived and restrict your of your rights.
This is how tourism is promoted.