In an effort to protect street dwellers from the risk of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and natural calamities, the city government here rescued 170 individuals in a joint operation on Tuesday.
Mayor Edgardo Labella said personnel from the Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification and Enhancement (PROBE) and the Cebu Environmental Sanitation Enforcement Team (CESET) were assisted by the members of the Cebu City Police Office in rounding up individuals living on the streets.
The staff members of the Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS) of the city government also joined the operation and took care of the early morning food provisions of the rounded up street dwellers.
The team found most of the individuals and families sleeping on the sidewalks when they started the rescue operation at dawn.
They also rescued vagrants who needed psychiatric attention. The city government is yet to determine the number of vagrants and non-vagrants rescued.
After the rescue operation, the street dwellers were brought to the “halfway house” in Barangay Tejero.
Upon profiling of their personal information, the team found out that many of them are not from the capital city. However, they have yet to determine how many of them are from the Cebu province and neighboring provinces.
“I met yesterday with the heads of PROBE Team, CESET, DSWS to discuss solutions to prevent street dwellers from returning to our sidewalks after their rescue,” Labella said in a statement.
He said that among the “measures we’re implementing to protect them from health risks during this pandemic is to provide them temporary shelter until we can (send) them to their hometowns”.
The mayor said he does not want a repeat of the incident that happened on the night of Oct. 13 where a homeless 14-year-old (not 16-year old, as earlier reported) boy was swept away by flood waters while sleeping under the bridge on Gen. Maxilom Avenue in the downtown area here.
The body of the boy identified as Hazel Dayondon was retrieved from a creek under the Rahman Bridge in Barangay Zapatera after three days of search operation conducted by the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office. (PNA)