NCRPO chief orders ‘rescue’ operations targeting beggars
Metro Manila’s highest-ranking police official has ordered his men to conduct “rescue” operations amid reports that beggars, mostly hailing from the provinces, have proliferated in the streets during the holiday season.
But National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief, Director Guillermo Eleazar, told the Inquirer on Tuesday that his order should not be taken as a directive to arrest those asking for alms. He said he was simply asking the police to “approach them, take them to a shelter or send them home.”
Eleazar pointed to the Marcos-era presidential decree known as the Anti-Mendicancy Law of 1978. Although it prohibits begging on the streets, it has not been strictly implemented by authorities.
“I don’t plan to enforce it per se,” the NCRPO chief said. “We will not arrest them, we will rescue them.”
He also floated the possibility of offering the mendicants free transportation to allow them to return to their respective provinces, adding that the NCRPO was appealing for help from other agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority in implementing this.
To discourage begging, Eleazar asked the public to refrain from giving alms.
“The intention of the law was to ensure people would not rely on begging,” he said. Extra caution must also be observed as some syndicates might be behind the sudden increase in the number of beggars arriving in Metro Manila this month, Eleazar added.
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