Police have rescued a total of 142 members of indigenous peoples who are currently in Metro Manila to beg for alms in time for the Yuletide season.
“Almost all of those rescued are in Quezon City while the Northern Police District has reported that it rescued three street beggars,” National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) head, Director Guillermo Eleazar told reporters Wednesday.
This figure includes 102 members of the Aeta community and 40 members of the Badjao community.
Meanwhile, 14 regular street beggars were also rescued in Quezon City.
Based on NCRPO data as of Wednesday, a total of 71 rescued Aetas and Badjaos are minors.
The Metro Manila police chief said that those rescued are immediately subjected to medical examination and eventually turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The move, he said, aims to assist the indigenous peoples for them to be able to go back to their respective communities.
The NCRPO chief said that he also tasked his commanders to regularly coordinate with barangay officials for the presence of beggars on the streets.
These operations comply with Presidential Decree 1563, or the Mendicancy Law of 1978.
Eleazar has ordered his men to conduct rescue operations of indigenous peoples who usually go to Metro Manila in flocks during Christmas season to beg.
The official said the operation is not a discrimination against the indigenous peoples since his order includes the regular beggars roaming around the busy streets of Metro Manila.
Eleazar explained that they have two main reasons why they have to rescue the street beggars.
First, he said that the police operation was actually a form of keeping the street beggars safe since it was a common observation that they usually carry with them infants and children in asking for alms on thoroughfares.
“There are even reports that children are chasing passenger jeepneys and even playing on the streets which is very dangerous as they may be hit by vehicles,” Eleazar said.
He added that the children also suffer since they would just sleep alongside the streets or under the flyovers or trees alongside the road.
Second, he said that since beggars would go to streets in groups, it was also observed that they also cause traffic jams especially in busy intersections. (PNA/Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)