By Leilani S. Junio
MANILA, July 31 (PNA) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the city government of Manila, together with partners from civil society and business groups and barangay officials, formalized on Friday their common goal of providing solution for the perennial problem of street dwelling and street families in Manila.
DSWD-National Capital Region (NCR) Director Alicia S. Bonoan and Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada sealed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Ermita-Malate Business Owners Association (EMBOA) headed by Michelle Pe and the city’s barangay chairmen for a clear strategy in addressing the problem.
Under the MOA, the DSWD will identify and assess the street families and provide the necessary interventions like skills training so that the families can be given livelihood skills training.
According to Director Bonoan, they are also tasked to pay for the monthly apartment rental of the identified street families for a period of six months to one year so that they can “develop the habit of living in a decent and safe home.”
To make the program sustainable, partners from the EMBOA will be hiring in their establishments some of the deserving and well-trained members of the families.
Some capable family members have already been hired by the city government as “park sweepers” and to do other forms of work suitable for their skills.
Barangay chairmen, on the other hand, have been given the task of engaging in “supportive activities” like having some sort of “child-minding programs” wherein the parents can safely leave their children when they go to work so that they can earn and sustain or continue the obligation of paying on their apartments and other needs after a one-year period.
They are also encouraged to actively participate in task forces meant to provide care and support for the street families in “hot spot areas” instead of driving them away or letting them to continue loitering around in carts and remain in that status forever.
The partnership also aims to ensure that those who are making their living by gathering recyclable garbage will earn decently also by crafting suitable programs to empower them.
Another aim of the partnership is to ensure that children of the said families will be provided with a safe environment — free from the risks of being exploited to become criminals or victims of prostitution and human trafficking, according to Mayor Estrada.
“If we will work together, we can achieve a lot and we will achieve one day the dream to eliminate this perennial problem,” the mayor said, adding that he is hopeful that other concerned private sectors will participate in the initiative which will be more effective through massive participation.
“Big or small efforts are welcomed to make this initiative successful and everyone can do their share,” he said.
Once the street families are able to have their permanent homes, they will be assessed again for possible inclusion in the DSWD’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or in any other poverty alleviation initiatives of the government.
The MOA signing, done at the Bulwagang Antonio J. Villegas at the Manila City Hall, was also an offshoot of the Executive Order No. 10 signed by Mayor Estrada last April 24 creating a task force on street dwelling. (PNA)