22 December 2010

Pinoy mendicancy

n : a solicitation for money or food (especially in the street
by an apparently penniless person)

Cebu City Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa had proposed to punish those who give mercy to the poor. These Samaritans would have to pay P200 or render community service if they persist doing acts of kindness in the streets. His fellow official, Gerardo Carillo, agreed. Protecting children from adults who used them to ask alms on the streets is the police’s job, anyway.

But as far as the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) is concerned, Article III Section 18 of the 1987 constitution already defined mendicancy as illegal and unconstitutional. Betty Ganob, anti-mendicancy task force officer-in-charge, believes ‘that giving money or goods to the mendicants could no longer be considered charity because it endangers the lives of the mendicants especially children.’

Even secretary general Socrates Rota Pepino of Panaghugpong-Kadamay in Cebu was uncertain of the amendment, adding that only a sustainable livelihood project could be the plan. Barangay captain Pancho Ramirez of Sto. Nino, Cebu thus suggested construction of playgrounds to divert the attention of the youth.

Their debate is welcome. At least, some authority have discussed about a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation. Pilipina Ako would have been just grateful if they have addressed the issue itself.

It had been more than a decade since Former President Ferdinand Marcos dealt with mendicancy through a presidential decree. Even then, the legislation did not talk about much the said ‘culture.’ Was it because politicians and bureaucrats themselves do it whenever they ask for loan assistance, political patronages and lagay?

Or was it because of the upsurge of our countrymen working overseas? The Philippines, along with Mexico and India, is the largest recipient of foreign exchange inflows from the US, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and United Arab Emirates. In fact, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) found out, some had become dependent to a family member working abroad that they eventually ‘lose their incentive to work and begin to regard the money as a right.’

The stampede of about 80 people during the anniversary of a famous noontime show has been ‘the highest degree of tragedy in the world of Philippine showbiz.’ Some blamed the program’s producers. Some opined that the local government of Pasig should have been responsible. Not many had thought of the 20,000 people who had hoped to win a million.

“Although ABS-CBN claims that all they desire is to give hope and entertainment to the ‘kapamilya’ gameshows such as Wowowee, Eat Bulaga's Laban o Bawi, among many others, [it] infuses mendicancy in the way of life of the poor. Instead of teaching to strive for success and focusing attention to worth-while and productive tasks, the Filipino sticks to the culture of betting and relying on luck,” Katie Torres, a blogger, wrote.

“I believe the blame goes to the system who continuously teaches the Masses that there is no hope for a better life in this country but to go out and forget about the country itself, or to bet your life on a televised commercialized gameshow… The Filipino poor is hurting everyday, and it is but immensely unfortunate for them to die while waiting for what they believe would give them the last chance... no, the only means to a better life, even if it's false hope. Even if it's a one-in-a-million chance,” she added.

Unfortunately, the Aquino administration ‘is seemingly not different,’ observed columnist Fidel Abalos of The Freeman. It transferred the annual P8-billion rice procurement subsidy of the National Food Authority (NFA) to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) when the rice farmers themselves don’t have any.


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