By Sheila Coronel / Channel News Asia
NEW YORK CITY: Flaviano Villanueva was in tears last Thursday. It was day five of the “enhanced community quarantine” in Metro Manila, where the priest runs a homeless centre.
The sprawling Philippine capital of 13 million people had been sealed off, and police and army troopers were guarding municipal boundaries to prevent entry and exit. Businesses were shuttered, and public transport was scarce.
Early that morning, dozens of homeless people lined up on the street outside the Kalinga (Care) Centre, waiting for the doors to open. They stood 1.5 metres apart, in line with the government’s guidance for the quarantine at that time.
But the head of the barangay, or village council, who had not been happy having the centre there, ordered it shut and drove the homeless away.
“The barangay captain said they were just following the law, no mass gatherings,” Villanueva said. “But the first law is to save lives. These are among the first people who are going to die.”