DSWD tells public: Don’t give alms to street kids, IPs this Christmas
MANILA, Philippines — The spirit of giving might be in the air this holiday season but Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista is discouraging the public to extend such a kind gesture to street beggars.
In a press conference Friday, Bautista noted the influx of street children and indigenous peoples (IPs) soliciting alms on the streets during Christmas time. However, he reminded the people that begging on the streets as well as giving money to mendicants are prohibited and penalized under Presidential Decree No. 1563, otherwise known as the Mendicancy Law of 1978, which was signed by former president Ferdinand Marcos.
Thus, he said: “We are advising the public na sana huwag sila magbigay ng (to not give) cash sa mga (to) street children and IPs like Badjao.”
He added that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has coordinated with other government agencies, particularly the local government units (LGUs), to operationalize an inter-agency task force to rescue and apprehend street children.
“Very critical ang role dito ng LGUs because they should be the one to give the frontline services ‘pag ‘yung IP o ‘yung street children [is/are] within its area. Kapag tinurnover na sa DSWD, [then] that is the time we provide intervention,” the DSWD chief said.
(The role of LGUs in this campaign is very critical because they should be the one to give the frontline services if the IP or street children [is/are] within its area. When they are turned over to DSWD, [then] that is the time we provide intervention.)
Among the services that DSWD provide is the transportation of mendicants – whether IPs or street children, to their respective home provinces, according to Bautista, adding that DSWD could also initiate activities such as camping, cultural activities, among others, for beggars.
Consequently, Bautista encouraged the public to instead report to DSWD the location of the beggars rather than give them alms so that authorities could rescue them.
“Mahirap makita itong mga IP na ito. Minsan tumatakbo tapos lipat lang sa isang lugar. Siguro pwedeng itawag sa amin yan,” he said.
(These IPs are very hard [to track down]. Sometimes they run and relocate to another place. Maybe the public could just call and report them to us.)
“Ang common practice, kapag naitawag sa amin yan, ma-aactivate kaagad ‘yung inter-agency task force then we will proceed kung saan ‘yung mga IP,” Bautista added.
(The common practice is when it’s reported to us, the inter-agency task force will be immediately activated then we will proceed where the IPs are.)
In a separate interview, DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao said the agency is discouraging giving alms to street children and IPs as this exposes them to certain risks such as abuse on the streets and vehicular accidents.
“We want to protect the street children and the IPs and remove them from various risks and dangers,” Dumlao told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview.
DSWD in a statement instead encouraged the public to give “responsible types of assistance” such as doing organized gift-giving and caroling activities, feeding sessions, story-telling, and medical missions.
Edited by KGA
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