By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Giving alms to street children and beggars is prohibited by law.
This was according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as it reiterated its appeal to the public to refrain from giving alms to street children, homeless individuals, and members of indigenous peoples’ (IP) groups.
The department cited that under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1563 or the Anti-Mendicancy Law, begging or soliciting of charitable donations by the poor and other religious organizations on the streets is prohibited.
Instead of giving alms, especially during the coming Christmas season, DSWD advised the public to provide “responsible types of assistance,” such as conducting organized gift-giving and caroling activities, feeding sessions, story-telling, and medical missions at the activity centers in the local government units (LGUs) to keep street dwellers and IP groups away from mendicant activities that may endanger their lives.
Together with the LGUs, the department operates and manages community-based child-friendly spaces or activity centers where street children can play, learn, eat, bathe, and socialize as they are monitored and cared for by social workers and volunteers.
DSWD works hand-in-hand with LGUs, which are the primary responders in addressing the needs of street dwellers, by providing them with technical assistance and resource augmentation to efficiently and effectively deliver their services to the marginalized and poor sectors of society.
Through its field offices, DSWD provides programs for street dwellers under the Comprehensive Program for Street Children, Street Families, and Indigenous Peoples especially the Sama-Bajaus.
The program features an integrated approach in responding to the needs of the street children and their families, and Sama-Bajau members with the ultimate goal of contributing to the reduction of their vulnerabilities and mendicant activities.
DSWD also implements the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF), an expansion of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), which specifically caters to homeless families living on the streets.
Benefits under the MCCT-HSF include education and health grants; access to social services; economic opportunities; and rent subsidy for a period of six to 12 months or depending on the capability of the household-beneficiaries to improve their living condition.
So far, a total of 201,526 homeless families are included in the program.
Meanwhile, DSWD-National Capital Region met with the 17 LGUs in the metropolis, national government agencies, and non-government organizations serving homeless families to solicit support and commitment of stakeholders in carrying out defined interventions, identifying areas of partnership and collaboration, and developing a strategic need-based plan to address the influx of individuals and families-at-risk on the streets. Intensifying the provision of livelihood, especially for IPs, at their places of origin was among the possible actions discussed during the meeting.
Aside from the continuous coordination with LGUs and field offices, the Department has a reach-out team that responds to the reported incidents of children or individuals-at-risk on the streets in Metro Manila.
Concerned citizens may report through the Twitter account, @savestreetkids, and indicate the exact location and other pertinent information about the sighting.