15 Jan JUAN on Rounding Up Street Kids for the Pope’s Visit
JUAN SAYS: Case in point for our article ‘The Quick Fix Country.’ From the epal posters, to the epal politicians, to spring cleaning the streets and buildings that surround where the pope will pass by and now this? Truly we are missing the point. We have become a country of pretentions where the façade has become more important than what is true on the inside. We have become a country of papal-worshipers that we have failed to understand what the Pope stands for. It is the Pope who clearly said: “It is not about me. But the one I represent.”
God is omniscient, every present in our daily lives. Why can’t we, a so-called Christian nation do (what we have done in the last two weeks of preparation for the arrival of the Pope) this every day of our lives? Be loving, be accepting, not just today, but everyday. And maybe, we then can definitely call ourselves Christians – a believer of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and a true follower of whom the Pope represents here on earth.
Police round up orphans and chain them in filth during pontiff’s visit to Philippines
In an editorial, the newspaper slammed the official’s remarks, saying: ‘We should all be scandalized by the government’s artificial campaign to keep the streets free of poor children only for the duration of the papal visit.
‘There is no question that children should be kept off the streets, but a campaign to do so just for the duration of a dignitary’s visit helps nobody except the officials who want to put on a show and pretend all is well in our cities.’
Catherine Scerri, deputy director of street children charity Bahay Tuluyan, told MailOnline workers had remarked on a noticeable rise in the number of ‘rescues’ of street children by officials in recent weeks because of the Pope’s visit.
‘More children have been picked up in recent weeks and there has been a pattern of this happening before big international events in the past,’ said Ms Scerri, an Australian who has worked for 11 years to improve the lives of Manila’s legions of street children.
‘It happened before President Obama’s visit to the Philippines in April last year. When we tried to have them released we were told they couldn’t come out until after Obama had gone and the children were very much given the impression that they were rescued because of this visit.’
A survey by Bahay Tuluyan found the so-called ‘rescue’ operations to round up street children are indiscriminate, targeting youngsters who have committed no offences and do not want to go to detention centres.
Children are taken in simply for sleeping on the street, for begging, or for stealing food to relieve their hunger, with no proper judicial process, and are exposed to abuse and exploitation by older children and adults, the study found.
‘There is no reason the shelters (centres) should be like this and what I find soul-destroying is the apathy of the people who work in and around places like RAC and allow this brutality,’ said Ms Scerri.
‘I can understand a lack of resources, but what I find so frustrating is the violence, torture and apathy and the fact that people are standing by and letting this happen. I think that is completely inexcusable.’
Detained children complained of violence, abuse, poor or inadequate food and lack of sanitation. They are given buckets for toilets and deprived of any education or contact with family members, something Ms. Scerri said they found ‘incredibly distressing’.
The practice of locking up street children ahead of major international events in Manila dates back to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit of 1996, Ms Scerri said. Children are held for periods ranging from days to months and repeatedly rearrested.
Read more:EXCLUSIVE – Children CAGED to keep the streets clean for the Pope: