By LITO RULONA
The City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWD) has sounded alarm bells over the increasing number of mendicants asking for alms in the streets and inside public utility vehicles along national highways in the city.
This was disclosed by Michael Pabillo, CSWDO executive overseer that they warn the public not to give alms to the mendicants and beggars along the streets.
“Those who have a kind heart should follow our call for Pagbigay sa Tamang Paraan at Huwag sa Daan campaign. It is alarming to witness the increasing number of mendicants or beggars here in the city of Cagayan de Oro specially when Christmas season is approaching,” he said.
He said they received complaints and observation from motorists and passers-by would commonly see them around Divisoria while some can be found stationed at Magsaysay Park.
“Some would even climb on jeepneys just to pass on some envelopes to ask for donations. Delikado man kini sila sa disgrasya,” he added.
Pabillo said the Pagbigay sa Tamang Paraan at Huwag sa Daan campaign aims to gather all donations from kind-hearted residents which will then be distributed by the CSWD properly at a designated area in the city.
“Gihimo na kini nila karon og panginabuhian. Moadto gayud sa kadalanan aron mangayo as part of their mentality. Naa man usab kita’y mga non-government organization that are willing to assist them as our partners,” he explained.
He said CSWD is still issuing warning to people on a law forbidding anybody from giving alms to the beggars since 1978 through the Anti-Mendicancy Law of 1978.
“The law states that giving alms to the needy who take to the streets to ask for alms is not the right way to help them, but instead, it would only lead to the ballooning of the number of beggars along major streets in the country,” he said.
He said giving alms would only make beggars think that they don’t need to find a decent job anymore to earn money for a living as they could easily make money by asking people for it through begging in the streets.
“Gi-discourage na gyud namo ang paghatag sa kadalanan. the Anti-Mendicancy Law of 1978 aims to eradicate widespread street begging in the country,” he added.
Pabillo said they are now encouraging the public to report immediately to the nearest CSWDO or barangay units that will immediately conduct a rescue operation against mendicants or beggars using minors.
Among the penalty includes – a mendicant upon conviction can be punished by a fine not exceeding P500 or by imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or both at the discretion of the court; habitual mendicants shall be punished with a fine not exceeding P1,000 or by imprisonment for a period not exceeding four years or both at the discretion of the court or; and any person who abets mendicancy by giving alms directly to mendicants exploited infants and minors on public roads, sidewalks, parks, and bridges shall be punished by a fine not exceeding P20.