Employees of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have protested the planned relocation of government-run Golden Acres Home for the Aged (GA) from its present home in Bago Bantay, Quezon City to Tanay, Rizal.
They also opposed the plan to abolish the Reception and Study Center for Children (RSCC).
The members of the Social Welfare Employees Association of the Philippines (Sweap), the union of DSWD employees which is affiliated with the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage), said they are not against the construction of more and better facilities such as the one being built in Tanay. However, they said, they are against the GA’s transfer from its present location because this would mean “outright abandonment” of the government’s duty to maintain an accessible facility serving the neglected senior citizens in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The GA, which to date houses more than 227 elderly persons, and the RSCC, an orphanage catering to infants and toddlers, will be displaced since their present location at the back of SM North Edsa, being covered by the proposed Quezon City Central Business District Project (QC-CBD), is targeted for sale to private real estate developers at a much higher commercial value.
In many recent media interviews, Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral had repeatedly announced that the transfer will be good for the abandoned and neglected elderly.
SWEAP national president Ramon Loza disputed Cabral’s claim. He said the GA’s clients have already expressed their opposition to the transfer.
The proposed location is just a stone-throw away from Camp Mateo M. Capinpin, where military exercises are regularly held.
Ferdinand Gaite, Courage national president, condemned what he described as the government’s plan to sacrifice the health and security of the marginalized sectors “just to rake in profits from the QC-CBD project.”
“It is unimaginable for this government to relocate the shelter for the elderly to the vicinity of a military camp,” Gaite said. “The elderly persons could die of fear!”
The GA employees also asserted that not all of their clients may be accommodated in the new facility in Tanay.
They also feared that the transfer and abolition of the GA and RSCC, respectively, will lead to “wholesale retrenchments,” as well as mass resignations.
“Tanay is very far from Manila,” Loza said. “Our meagre salaries and benefits will not compensate the high transport cost. It is natural for the employees to leave their jobs than spend much on transportation.”
“Sadly, it is not that easy to look for a new job amidst the economic crisis that our country is currently facing,” Loza added.
Sweap vowed to launch a series of protest actions against the transfer and abolition of both institutions. “Our struggle against privatization and commercialization is a struggle to protect the social services that the Filipino people deserve,” Loza said. (Bulatlat.com)