The Philippines Government is under fire for admitting they put hundreds of homeless people in luxury accommodating during Pope Francis’s recent visit.
Politicians have demanded an explanation after Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Aoliman revealed that 490 beggars and homeless people were put up in air-conditioned log cabins at a resort near Manila.
“The pope would have wanted to see the Philippines, warts and all. Let us not pretend that we are a first-world country,” House of Representatives member Terry Ridon, who is initiating a congressional inquiry, told Agence France-Presse.
Soliman admitted that the street people were removed from the capital’s Roxas Boulevard before the visit.
A record crowd of six million flooded the bayside road on Sunday to hear Pope Francis celebrate mass in a nearby park, the highlight of his tour of the Catholic outpost where he preached “mercy and compassion” for the poor.
After the pontiff’s visit the homeless were put back on the streets just hours after he lifted off from Manila.
Renato Reyes, secretary-general of the left-wing group Bayan, criticised the decision, saying the government was “whitewashing poverty”.
The Chateau Royale resort where the homeless people stayed offers swimming pools and rock-climbing facilities, and usually charges up to 24,000 pesos ($544) for a room per night, according to its website.
Soliman said the government did not pay the full price, but did not provide details on how much was spent for the venture.