June 24, 2024

The city government continues to address the plight of mendicants and vagrants in the city with the ultimate aim of keeping them away from the streets.

Office of the City Social Welfare and Development Officer (OCSWDO) Officer-in-Charge Liza Bulayungan said the Inter-agency Anti-Mendicancy Task Force headed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong conducts regular engagements with the mendicants and vagrants and provides the services they need.

She said monitoring activities were intensified starting January when they were observed to increase in number.

“During the pandemic, vagrants and mendicants were barely seen in the streets but when the tourism activities and transportation gradually opened, they also gradually went back to the streets begging and roaming around thus the task force in coordination with the barangays within the central business district resumed conducting round-ups constantly reminding them especially the persons with visual disability whose livelihood (massage) was greatly affected by the pandemic  on the threats to their health and safety of the prolonged stay in the streets,” the OCSWDO noted in its report prepared by Social Welfare Officer II Coralie Dulnuan.

According to the report, the task force monitored and assisted 96 mendicants and three vagrants from Jan. 18 to April 1.

The services provided include counseling focusing on the health risk, strengths of the family and its members, disadvantage of mendicancy; psychological first aid, provision of family food packs, face masks and free transport to their residences. Minors were turned over to their families.

Non-Baguio residents were referred to the CSWD Unit social workers for provision of monetary and other assistance to their families and to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for Balik Probinsya assistance.

The masseuse and tattoo artists at Burnham Park were advised against conducting their livelihood in parks in observance of the health protocols and health and sanitation purposes in coordination with the City Environment and Parks Management Office headed by Atty. Rhenan Diwas.

Early this month, the Persons with Disability Affairs Office under Samuel Aquino also engaged with visually impaired persons begging around the central business district to help them get back to help them leave the streets and go back to their previous sources of livelihood.

The OCSWDO said it will continue monitoring and providing social services to the mendicants/ vagrants and their families to prevent them from going back to the streets. – Aileen P. Refuerzo