Pub­lic re­minded of anti-men­di­cancy law

Sun.Star Pampanga - - FRONT PAGE - BY PRINCESS CLEA ARCELLAZ Sun.Star Staff Re­porter

CITY OF SAN FER­NANDO - Dur­ing the Christ­mas sea­son, this cap­i­tal city sud­denly be­comes home to groups of men­di­cants, es­pe­cially Aeta fam­i­lies who go down from the moun­tains to seek their share of Yule­tide bless­ings.

But while Christ­mas is known to be the sea­son of giv­ing, the City So­cial Wel­fare and De­vel­op­ment Of­fice (CSWDO) here re­minded pub­lic to be mind­ful of the Anti-Men­di­cancy Law.

The law, Pres­i­den­tial De­cree No. 1563, pro­hibits the pub­lic from ex­tend­ing as­sis­tance, par­tic­u­larly mon­e­tary, to men­di­cants in an aim to pre­vent the ex­ploita­tion of in­fants and chil­dren through men­di­cancy and pro­mote the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of mi­nors found beg­ging in the st r eet s.

CSWD Of­fi­cer Aileen Vil­lanueva said about 300 mem­bers of Indigenous Peo­ples (IPs) such as Bad­jaos and Ae­tas flock to the city to ask for alms from passers-by in the streets, mo­torists and the com­mut­ing pub­lic.

“Bad­jaos are usu­ally main­stays in the streets as they keep com­ing back de­spite be­ing con­stant ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the govern­ment’s ‘Ba­lik-Probin­sya’ pro­gram. But dur­ing Christ­mas sea­son, the streets of San Fer­nando, es­pe­cially here in the down­town area, are filled with Aeta fam­i­lies,” Vil­lanueva said.

In­stead of giv­ing alms in the streets, Vil­lanueva urged the pub­lic to di­rect their de­sired as­sis­tance through the govern­ment or le­git­i­mate foun­da­tions for a more or­ga­nized sys­tem of ex­tend­ing help to the needy.

“Of course we can­not con­trol the pub­lic but we are ask­ing them join govern­ment ac­tiv­i­ties or those le­git­i­mate foun­da­tions or or­ga­ni­za­tions to re­move from their mind­set that there is life on the streets,” she said.

The or­ga­nized con­duct of ex­tend­ing as­sis­tance to the needy also aims to pre­vent the bal­loon­ing num­ber of beg­gars in ma­jor streets and en­cour­age the men­di­cants to look for de­cent jobs.

For the govern­ment’s part, Vil­lanueva said that the city govern­ment has been keen on im­ple­ment­ing the law through var­i­ous pro­grams aimed at pro­vid­ing sus­tain­able as­sis­tance to the men­di­cants, both young and old.

She dis­closed that their of­fice has sent hun­dreds of men­di­cants home, while oth­ers be­came ben­e­fi­cia­ries of dif­fer­ent liveli­hood train­ing pro­grams and ed­u­ca­tional as­sis­tance for the youth in an aim to keep them away from beg­ging and up­lift their lives.

“The govern­ment, not only here in San Fer­nando, has var­i­ous pro­grams that our IP broth­ers can avail of. We have the ‘Ba­lik-Probin­sya’, the liveli­hood train­ings and fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to start a small busi­ness, or par­tic­i­pate in bazaars or­ga­nized by the govern­ment,” she said.

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