Philippines clears streets of the poor ahead of APEC summit

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APEC2015The Philippine government is clearing Manila’s streets of hundreds of homeless Manila residents, including more than 140 street children ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to be held on November 18 and 19, according to a report by non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch.

The watchdog said that the “clearing operations”are done through “arbitrary detentions” and mass arrests in an aim to “beautify” the city when international leaders are expected to visits.

More than 3,000 visiting government officials, business leaders and journalists will come to the Philippine capital for the APEC forum, include Barack Obama, President Xi Jinping of China, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and more than a dozen other national leaders and their entourage.

“Philippine authorities have violated the rights of hundreds of Manila residents to put a cynical veneer of ‘cleanliness’ on the city for APEC delegates,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“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,” he added.

Since November 9, local authorities have rounded up several hundred adults and children from streets and shanty towns in Manila and surrounding municipalities of Metro Manila and detained them without charge. Many of the adults operate food carts or sell scavenged items and were told by officials who detained them that they would be able to return to the streets and resume their work after the summit. On the orders of local mayors, including Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, police and social workers are detaining them under guard in government facilities for the homeless and orphans.

The Philippine government is reportedly spending $212 million for the meeting, as it sees it as a investment for the country’s international reputation and for extending trade relations. The APEC Economic Leader’s Meeting will take place at the Philippine International Convention Center.

“Abusing Manila’s homeless population shouldn’t be part of the price tag for the Philippines government to host high-profile international events,” Kine said, adding that “APEC delegates should make it clear to their Philippine hosts that abusive ‘clearing operations’ against Manila’s most vulnerable residents only tarnish the reputations of the Philippines and APEC.”

The government has admitted clearing the streets of homeless people during previous high-profile events. During the January visit by Pope Francis to the Philippines, the government rounded up dozens of homeless families and brought them to a resort in the tourist area of Batangas, south of Manila, until after the papal visit, a senior government official said during a Senate hearing on the issue.

Government official have been defending the actions and said that the homeless are being helped by welfare organisations the whole year round and are not involuntarily detained.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government is also beefing up security after for the APEC Summit after the terror attacks in Paris on November 13.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Philippine government is clearing Manila’s streets of hundreds of homeless Manila residents, including more than 140 street children ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to be held on November 18 and 19, according to a report by non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

APEC2015The Philippine government is clearing Manila’s streets of hundreds of homeless Manila residents, including more than 140 street children ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to be held on November 18 and 19, according to a report by non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch.

The watchdog said that the “clearing operations”are done through “arbitrary detentions” and mass arrests in an aim to “beautify” the city when international leaders are expected to visits.

More than 3,000 visiting government officials, business leaders and journalists will come to the Philippine capital for the APEC forum, include Barack Obama, President Xi Jinping of China, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and more than a dozen other national leaders and their entourage.

“Philippine authorities have violated the rights of hundreds of Manila residents to put a cynical veneer of ‘cleanliness’ on the city for APEC delegates,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“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,” he added.

Since November 9, local authorities have rounded up several hundred adults and children from streets and shanty towns in Manila and surrounding municipalities of Metro Manila and detained them without charge. Many of the adults operate food carts or sell scavenged items and were told by officials who detained them that they would be able to return to the streets and resume their work after the summit. On the orders of local mayors, including Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, police and social workers are detaining them under guard in government facilities for the homeless and orphans.

The Philippine government is reportedly spending $212 million for the meeting, as it sees it as a investment for the country’s international reputation and for extending trade relations. The APEC Economic Leader’s Meeting will take place at the Philippine International Convention Center.

“Abusing Manila’s homeless population shouldn’t be part of the price tag for the Philippines government to host high-profile international events,” Kine said, adding that “APEC delegates should make it clear to their Philippine hosts that abusive ‘clearing operations’ against Manila’s most vulnerable residents only tarnish the reputations of the Philippines and APEC.”

The government has admitted clearing the streets of homeless people during previous high-profile events. During the January visit by Pope Francis to the Philippines, the government rounded up dozens of homeless families and brought them to a resort in the tourist area of Batangas, south of Manila, until after the papal visit, a senior government official said during a Senate hearing on the issue.

Government official have been defending the actions and said that the homeless are being helped by welfare organisations the whole year round and are not involuntarily detained.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government is also beefing up security after for the APEC Summit after the terror attacks in Paris on November 13.

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