July 13, 2024

The Baguio City Council has approved on third and final reading an ordinance adopting a holistic and developmental approach to mendicancy.

Councilor Arthur Allad-iw, main author of the ordinance, said it is high time a “developmental” approach on mendicancy is put into place with an end goal of restoring the sense of self-reliance of beggars in the city during the process of fully reintegrating them into society.

The ordinance is anchored in Presidential Decree 1563 (Mendicancy Law of 1978) and Executive Order 097 issued by Mayor Benjamin Magalong.

The Mendicancy Law of 1978 recognizes the need to “provide appropriate services to enable mendicants to meet their basic needs and develop themselves as self-reliant persons.”

Meanwhile, EO 097 created the Anti-Mendicancy Task Force to address the growing number of individuals engaged in mendicancy in the city. Based on the data of the Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), some mendicants in the city come from other places.

Allad-iw said the city government should consider the establishment of a center or facility for mendicants for their long-term personal development.

The city government should also identify a facility to house mendicants that need to be transported, he added.

Under the ordinance, an anti-mendicancy task force shall be created consisting of concerned city officials, city department heads, and the heads or representatives of the Baguio City Police Office, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Department of Social Welfare and Development-Cordillera, Department of Trade and Industry-Cordillera, Department of the Interior and Local Government Baguio, Philippine Mental Health Association Baguio-Benguet Chapter, Commission on Human Rights-Cordillera, associations of bus companies in the city, federation of the person with disabilities in the city, and non-government organizations.

Among the functions of the task force are to adopt, implement, monitor, and evaluate plans and programs that will realize the policies and objectives of the ordinance, Presidential Decree 1563, including international instruments or policies geared toward the rehabilitation or personal development of mendicants; and adopt and implement the integrated network of appropriate services to mendicants based on their assessment and feasibility needs as identified by the task force and the secretariat.

The task force should also coordinate with the offices in the city government, other concerned government agencies, and the private sector for the immediate support services to the mendicants; institutionalize a center of communication and data of mendicants including the compilation of documents such as plans and programs related to mendicants; and mobilize and sustain city-wide information and education campaigns in coordination with concerned government agencies and the private sector for the self-development of mendicants.

A secretariat should likewise be formed consisting of three personnel from the CSWDO and other concerned city government offices. 

Supervised by the CSWDO head, the secretariat should institutionalize a database for all mendicants in the city; safekeep all documents related to mendicancy in the city; prepare minutes, communications and documentation of meetings of the task force; and help facilitate the programs and services for the mendicants; among others.

The city government should appropriate an initial of P500,000 yearly for the implementation of the ordinance.

The proposed ordinance was referred to the committee on social services, women, and urban poor. – Jordan G. Habbiling