Malacañang told social workers and the Manila city government on Tuesday not to hide the true situation of homeless street dwellers residing in the city amid reports that they will again be “rescued” as part of efforts to prepare for the Miss Universe pageant next year.
“The President has said: ‘Leave them there.’ Leave them there so that the people see exactly where we are,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.
The Palace has received reports that at least 100 street dwellers were rounded up in Manila more than a month before the country hosts the 65th Miss Universe pageant.
An official from the Manila Social Welfare and Development Office who asked not to be identified said the “rescue” was part of the city’s preparations for the pageant.
The Palace, however, stressed that the government will not resort to the tactics of the previous administration of hiding homeless Filipinos from visiting foreigners.
“We are not hiding our true situation,” Abella said.
Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo had earlier stressed that hiding street dwellers is a “mere hypocricy” that should be discontinued.
Taguiwalo’s predecessor, Corazon Soliman, was heavily criticized for clearing out street dwellers during the visit of Pope Francis and during the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit which the country hosted.