BY MAE SINGUAY
BACOLOD City – Starting Oct. 1, the opening day of the MassKara Festival here, the city government will be strictly enforcing the ordinance outlawing mendicancy.
It has been observed that during occasions attracting huge crowds, beggars here also come in droves.
But City Ordinance No. 146, Series of 1995 does not only punish the mendicants; it also holds liable generous people giving alms to beggars.
People caught giving alms will be made to pay a P50 fine.
Badjaos from Mindanao are commonly seen on the streets soliciting money from passersby and public utility vehicles.
The Anti-Mendicancy Task Force has been tasked to strictly implement the ordinance, said Department of Social Services and Development head Pacita Tero.
The task force will be issuing official receipts.
Beggars will be temporarily taken to Balay Pag-asa in Barangay 12, or at the Social Development Center for safekeeping, said Tero.
For the blind beggars, the home for the blind will be informed about City Ordinance No. 146 a day prior to its enforcement.
“We are asking the help of the media to disseminate the information regarding this,” said Tero.
Recently, the city’s anti-mendicancy team rounded up 18 Badjao children and 12 Badjao mothers.
They were immediately taken to an Iloilo-bound roll-on, roll-off ship at the Bredco Port, Tero said.
From Iloilo, the Badjaos were supposed to board a ship that would take them back to Mindanao, said Tero.
Badjaos are sea gypsies from Mindanao, particularly from Sulu and Celebes seas, and they make their livelihood solely on the sea as expert fishermen, deep sea divers and navigators.
Originally scattered along the coastal areas of Tawi Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, and some coastal municipalities of Zamboanga del Sur, armed conflict between government forces and Muslim rebels has driven them to seek refuge elsewhere in the country./PN