Watch: Hundreds of Homeless Detained Ahead of APEC Summit 2015? (Video)
Authorities in the Philippines have detained hundreds of homeless peoplea in Manila, days before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit 2015 (November 16-18). This is according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international non-profit organization that conducts research and publishes reports of violations of human rights around the world. Watch also news report video below.
According to a post at HRW.org, local social workers and police have arrested scavengers and homeless people in and outside Manila since November 9. They were detained in various social welfare facilities including Reception and Action Center (RAC), Jose Fabella Center, and Boys Town, a shelter for homeless children whose parents are not around to guide them.
“Philippine authorities have violated the rights of hundreds of Manila residents to put a cynical veneer of ‘cleanliness’ on the city for APEC delegates. The removal and detention of homeless and impoverished residents from where they live and work without due process is a violation of their basic human rights.” Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine said.
The report did not mention the exact number of the homeless people who were arrested and detained, but noted that this includes adults and more than 140 children. However, the Aquino administration, through Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) director for Metro Manila, Alicia Bonoan, told HRW that these actions are only ‘rescue operations’ and not mass arrests.
Bonoan also denied that such activities are not related to the APEC Summit 2015, insisting that this is a just a regular outreach program by the Philippine government to help poor and homeless families in Metro Manila. But apparently, this is the opposite to the statements of the people who were brought in shelters when they were interviewed by Human Rights Watch.
“No matter how I pleaded, they didn’t listen. They will only let me go after APEC, that’s what they told me.” A 52-year old street vendor named ‘Cora’ from Ermita was quoted in the report, adding that she was detained last November 11. These so-called ‘clearing operations were coordinated with local officials including former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada.
DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman earlier said that the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Families (MCCT-HSF) program should not be misunderstood as an action to hide the poor and street children during the APEC Summit 2015. However, ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol featured some of them and said they are being detained.
Meanwhile, more than 18,000 policemen were deployed to secure the 21 world leaders who will attend the APEC Summit 2015. There were traffic re-routing in main roads in Metro Manila, and hundreds of flights have been canceled. The Philippine National Police (PNP) assured that there is no security threat, despite the recent Paris terror attacks that killed 129 people.
The APEC Summit is composed of 21 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, United States of America, and Vietnam. The last time it was held in the country was in 1996, during the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos.