When giving becomes a crime-A A +A
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
WITH just 49 days left before Christmas, the generous hearts of each one of us are being awakened once more.
It is this season that most of us feel to give back to others to show our appreciation for the blessings we have received for the past months.
And we feel that it is the most perfect time to share our blessings to those who are most in need.
However, not all of us are able to have more than what we really need. Most are striving hard to make ends meet. Others simply do not have enough to sustain their daily living.
We see these people everywhere.
And among these people are the ones we see begging in the streets, mostly outside the churches, parks, and in other conspicuous places.
I, personally, feel sympathy for these people especially for the elderly and the children who have to go to the streets and become mendicants.
I usually ask where their children or parents are such that these people should be providing for the needs of these mendicants.
But I feel strong disappointment towards individuals who use the children or the elderly in mendicancy.
With this, I would like to re-iterate that by law, mendicancy is a crime.
As mandated by Presidential Decree 1563 or Anti- Mendicancy Law passed in 11 July 1978, mendicancy or begging can be punishable by law.
Mendicants, as defined in the decree, refers to any person who has no visible and legal means of support, or lawful employment and who is physically able to work but neglects to apply himself to some lawful calling and instead uses begging as a means of living.
However, children who are being used for the purpose of collecting money or alms through mendicancy can be referred to as exploited infant or child.
The Anti- Mendicancy Law has been passed to “promote of social justice and protection of life, property and dignity of the citizenry such that mendicancy breeds crime, creates traffic hazards, endangers health, and exposes mendicants to indignities and degradation”.
This law punishes any mendicant to pay a fine not exceeding P500.00 or P1,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two or four years based on the gravity of the act.
A mendicant may be punished to pay the fine and to be imprisoned dependent on the decision of the court. However, it is not only the mendicants who are liable under the law.
Any person who supports mendicancy by giving alms directly to mendicants, exploited infants and minors on public places will be punished by a fine not exceeding P20. This is when giving becomes a crime.
This act should have been treated as generosity but you can get punished by giving to the mendicants. On the other hand, mendicants are under the liability of the Local Government Units where they are seen.
The Local Social Welfare and Development Offices (LSWDOs) in the areas should provide the primary intervention to address the needs of these mendicants. However, if the LSWDOs need augmentation, the Department of Social Welfare and Development can provide additional services which are to be identified by the social workers under the Crisis Intervention Unit of the Department. It is true that being poor is not a crime.
However, it is also not right to become dependent of others. It is not wrong for us to become generous to other people. But we should do it in a right way to prevent others from taking advantage of our generosity.
We could also not deny the fact that the number of mendicants are increasing especially during the holiday season. But instead of giving alms which may provide these people short term help, why not help these people receive the proper programs or services that may change their lives?
This is not the government’s responsibility alone. Each of us can be of help to these people, not by providing them money but by assisting them to the offices in which they may seek help. Let us not close our eyes and hearts to these people, let us make a way for them to receive the assistance from the Government through the social welfare and development offices. Hindi ka magbibigay ng pera. Hindi ka makukulong. Pero makakatulong ka.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on November 06, 2013.