24 Jan 2015

Philippines hid homeless from Pope

8:09 am on 24 January 2015

The government in the Philippines is facing calls for an inquiry after it admitted relocating homeless people temporarily during Pope Francis' visit.

Pope Francis waves to crowds in Manila.

Pope Francis waves to crowds in Manila. Photo: AFP

Social welfare secretary Corazon Soliman said that nearly 500 people were taken from the streets of Manila to an upscale resort in the outskirts.

House of Representatives member Terry Ridon called for an inquiry, saying the move was a "clearing operation".

Pope Francis arrived in the Philippines last week and left on Monday.

Mr Ridon said the government relocation scheme was "truly horrendous, given the fact that Pope Francis visited our country to - first and foremost - see and talk to the poor."

The Philippine Star said he plans to summon Ms Soliman to explain her agency's actions before lawmakers.

'Safety and orientation'

Ms Soliman said in interviews this week that the homeless families were removed shortly before the pontiff arrived on 15 January.

Many of them lived along the Manila Bay seafront, the venue for Sunday's mass which drew a record crowd of six million.

On 14 January they were taken to the Chateau Royale resort, which charges hundreds of dollars for a room per night, and returned to the capital on Monday after Pope Francis had left.

The families are now temporarily residing at government facilities in Manila, Ms Soliman said.

-BBC

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