In city where violence looms large, no one begsBy Julie Alipala
LAMITAN CITY—In a place notorious for violence, the absence of beggars is a paradox.
The sight of men, women or children in tattered clothes, their arms stretched out for alms is not one that this city is known for.
Instead, one sees men and women toiling even as the threat of lawlessness looms large in their daily lives.
Some residents swear they’ve never seen anybody begging here.
Dr. Arlyn Jawad Jumao-as, a city resident, said she has been living in this city for over a decade now and has never encountered a mendicant, even once.
“I never saw any beggar. This is one of the things that really puzzled me here,” Jumao-as said.
She said in jest that “maybe Lamiteños are rich that they do not need to beg anymore.”
No one can really explain the absence of beggars in a place known for kidnappings and crimes, but people who had lived in the city all their lives said no beggar goes around here.
Marcelina Uddin, a 36-year-old mother of six and a cassava vendor at the public market, said she was born and raised in the city and could not remember a single encounter with a beggar.
She said many Lamiteños are suffering from poverty, too, but prefer to work than beg for alms.
She said her husband, for example, earns money from accepting carpentry jobs and selling vegetables.
The money that she and her husband earn support the education of their daughters, the eldest of whom is in college, Uddin said.
Gaspar Jailukman, a 43-year-old banana trader, said, since moving to this city from Jolo in 1972, he has not seen any beggar roaming the streets or knocking on doors.
Carmelo Ybanez, a 54-year-old laborer, said the reason could be the availability of jobs, no matter how menial these are.
“There are a lot of opportunities to earn a living,” he said.
“Life in Lamitan is better, compared to other areas,” said Chief Insp. Edwin Placio, executive officer of the Basilan provincial police.
Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad said he has not seen any beggar as well since coming here.
Jumoad said he presumed that beggars had roamed the city streets in the past but they have since found “real jobs.”
Mayor Roderick Furigay said the city of about 100,000 boasts of not having unemployed residents.
He said the city has large agricultural areas to work in, especially rubber plantations. The city’s waters also offer abundant marine life.
Lamitan, consisting of 45 barangays, is basically a fisheries and agricultural area.
“In fact, we still import laborers from nearby areas because construction jobs are in demand here and we are running short of spare hands,” he said.
Furigay said an example of projects, which need more workers, is the planned expansion of the wharf and fish port here, estimated to cost P60 million.
He said other job opportunities are also available as small private investments continue to come in.
Furigay credited good governance for the economic boom that the city has been experiencing.
Proof of it, he said, was a Seal of Excellence in Governance that the city received from the Civil Service Commission in April.
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