THEY’RE everywhere, loitering and sleeping under the EDSA flyover near Camp Crame, outside shopping malls, business establishments and on busy intersections disturbing motorists, pedestrians and tourists.
Hundreds of these beggars, many of them minors and indigenous people have literally swarmed Metro Manila since the start of December. Although their presence is only being felt during Yuletide, their increasing numbers have already alarmed authorities in Metro Manila.
There are questions that need to be answered too: Are these poor people working for syndicates? Are they being financed by groups out to embarrass the government by showing how Filipinos are mired in poverty? Or are they simply the same group of mendicants who have made it a habit to go to the metropolis to beg during the Christmas and New Year season?
National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said during a 4-day rescue operation last week, his men rounded up 366 of these beggars in Manila and Quezon City.
The beggars were composed of 155 adults and 211 minors. Out of the 366, 110 were Aeta tribesmen while 59 were Badjaos.
The Quezon City Police District headed by Chief Superintendent Joselito T. Esquivel Jr. apprehended 194 of the beggars since last December 11.
The NCRPO said the Anti-Mendicancy Law or Presidential Decree No. 1563 issued by the late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos in going after the beggars could face a minimum P500 fine and as much as P1,000 fine or 2-year in prison if they are proven to be habitual offenders.