As the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit nears, so does the deadline for the Anti-Mendicancy Board to rescue the beggars off the streets. The Board’s executive director, Atty. Jocelyn Pesquera, insists that this is not simply meant for the duration of the 2015 APEC Summit, to be held in Cebu from August 22 to September 16.
She defends that this is not only for the APEC Summit but this is simply a continuation of efforts that had already had begun. “This is not because of APEC. Regular ni namo. (We do this regularly.) And this month is anti-mendicancy month,” and said this will continue even after until the end of the year. Pesquera admits though that they hope to clear the city before the APEC but warns it might not be possible. ““Di ta kaingon nga 100 percent. Kay ila gamiton ang freedom of abode. They also have human rights,” she reasoned.
When asked about the rescue operation and how what actions would be taken for the beggars, she said, “Atong i-check kay naay uban that have houses. Anha lang sa dalan kay maghulat sa basura. Naay uban nga paabot sa ilang trabaho. It’s not really nga tanan naa sa dalan way balay. (We will check because some have houses. They’re just in the streets, waiting for the garbage, waiting for a job. Not all are in the streets because they have no homes.)” Depending on the assessment of the mendicant done by the Board and the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWD), the government would decide what kind of intervention to do for that particular person.
For those who have homes in the provinces, they will be sent home through the Balik Probinsiya (Back to the Provinces) program which gives monetary aid for to citizens within Cebu City who do not have the financial capability to go back to their primary residences. Those without homes will sheltered with help from their partner non-government organizations.
Rescued mendicants will be temporarily housed in the Barangay San Roque public sports complex until they are assessed. Pesquera explained that after being rescued, mendicants are discouraged them from staying in the streets and then enrolled in the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) program. The program “provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor, to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of children aged 0-18,” quoted from the Official Gazette. Mendicants will also be assessed for other programs like Cash-for-Work and will be given additional cash for rent good for 6 months.
Photo credits: Flickr account of Mio Cade