In a statement Saturday, spokesperson for the League of Filipino Students Charisse Bañez decried the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) admission of sending the children and their families to a resort in the country's northeast.
The "family camp" for the around "500 children" is a crooked means to "create an illusion of inclusive economic growth," she claimed.
The statement came after the House of Representatives' Committee on Metro Manila development announced an inquiry into reports that the department had gathered street children from Manila during the visit of Pope Francis to the country Jan. 15-19.
"DSWD treats the homeless as an eyesore and keeps them from view whenever international events take place," wrote Bañez. "When the event is concluded, the magic trick expires and the poor are back to their hapless state."
She claimed that "hiding the homeless" shows the failure of President Benigno Aquino’s policies.
"Hiding the poor during a dignitary’s visit then throwing them back to the streets after will never effect a sensible reduction in poverty nor alleviate the recurring homelessness."
In a separate statement, House member Rep. Terry Ridon said that the department's Secretary Corazon Soliman is expected to appear before the House and explain the actions of her agency.
He described the department’s "clearing operations" as "truly horrendous, given the fact that Pope Francis visited our country to -- first and foremost -- see and talk to the poor."
In response to the allegations, DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman has sought to underline that only 99 street families were actually sent to the camp, and said that the department had no intention of hiding the children and their families.
"We know that poverty cannot be hidden and was seen himself by Pope Francis," Soliman said, highlighting that Francis travelled to Tacloban, where he had met survivors of typhoon Yolanda.
"The public must understand that there are correct ways of helping for if they will continue giving them alms through money as they beg in the streets they are encouraging and inviting them further to stay there."