Whenever I see girls and boys…
Christmas is around the corner. And so expect an increasing number of street children.
Street children begging for loose change are all over the metro. They come in various forms with different tactics to tug your heartstrings.
Some ride jeepneys to give out envelopes and wipe the passengers’ feet. There were times when they will rush towards cars and jeepneys during traffic jams to wipe the windshields before asking for money. They don’t even care if the rags they use are greasy.
I used to see ragged teens who will ask for fares because they claimed to be lost and out of cash to get home. There are street children holding babies, others with a missing limb, and some too thin their bones are sticking out.
Most of these kids will never stop shouting “Kyah, ateh, pembarya!”
Though it is heart-wrenching to ignore these kids, we all must be aware that begging is outright illegal. In fact, Presidential Decree No. 1563 was created to eradicate the begging in the streets.
Presidential Decree No. 1563
Begging has been used to exploit children. In 2016, Quezon City social welfare coordinator Nonie Metran revealed that there are individuals who take Aetas and their children to Metro Manila to make them beg.
The Mendicancy Law of 1978 was created to eradicate begging and promote rehabilitation of minors.
It has defined begging or mendicancy as a factor that “breeds crime, creates traffic hazards, endangers health, and exposes mendicants to indignities and degradation.”
Any person caught giving money to beggars are subject to fines. Children not older than 15 years old who are found begging will be apprehended as neglected children. The Department of Social Services and Development or any duly licensed child placement agency should take custody of these kids.
Are You Really Helping with Your Money?
With giving even a few coins, you are encouraging beggars to continue begging in the streets even if they endanger their own lives and the motorists.
Economist Tyler Cowen shared, “the more you give to beggars, the harder beggars will try.” They become abusive and gets rowdy on people who refuse to give some money.
So even if they don’t belong in a shadowy syndicate, children get the wrong impression when you give them money. They tend to think that it is okay to beg. And how sure are you that they are indeed going to buy food?
No matter how good your intentions are, your money can bring more harm.
For the past years, street kids in Metro Manila are so fund of cheap solvents that people started calling them “rugby” boys.
Dr Rustico Apolonio of Cebu City Treatment and Rehabilitation Center said rugby causes loss of appetite. This is why it is taken by those without financial ability to buy food. However, they also experience confusion and disorientation which makes them hostile. The police can’t arrest them because they are just minors and they refuse to say where their parents are.
Don’t Let Your Money Go to Waste
As regular employees, struggling self-employed or allottee of an OFW, we all can’t afford to waste money. We may just talk about a few extra coins, but if you regularly give to every begging street kid, the amount will also add up.
Add to that, if you give them money, you do not have an assurance that it will be used for their own good. You are teaching them to beg for a living. What will happen to these mga batang hamog when they grow up? Will they still beg for a living?
Now that Christmas is just a few weeks from now, do not let these kids take advantage of you. Instead of giving money carelessly, you can just give biscuits. You might feel selfish, but your act of kindness using monetary help will only make the situation worst.
Save your money and save these kids.