Assistance and Non-Assistance Before and During the Time of COVID-19

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This article is based on a fieldwork among the sidewalk vendors and sidewalk dwellers of Escolta; Manila; before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. It looks into the treatment of ‘illegals’ in public settings. Before and during the pandemic; street vendors and dwellers were at the mercy of the ‘illegal’ mark—making the state authorities agents of legal positivism. When those recognized as legal by the State have already received monetary and non-monetary assistance; the vendors and dwellers were left on the side of the road waiting for the absent authorities to come while a few individuals had to step in and extend the much-needed customary help—an assistance based on ‘feeling-for-one’s-fellow’ in spite of formal legalities.