President Rodrigo Duterte said he wants to repeal the Anti-Mendicancy Law of 1978 which bars children from begging, including caroling during the Christmas season.
“One of the things I really hate [about the law] is that this caroling is being prohibited. Do not believe that it should be disallowed. I intend to repeal that law. It’s not good,” the President said.
“Why can’t we get a free pass? While it’s Christmas, the children who are singing carols are gone because it’s prohibited. I cannot see the rationale of the anti-mendicancy law,” he added.
The law, enforced through Presidential Decree No. 1563, aimed to eradicate widespread street begging in the country.
Duterte’s pronouncement contradicted that of Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, who called on the public to refrain from giving alms as this encourages kids to roam the streets and endangers their lives.
“The Department and its attached agencies continue to advocate the Anti-Mendicancy Law that penalizes anyone who gives alms to mendicants or street kids. This Christmas season will not be an excuse for its implementation,” Taguiwalo said.
“Let us make this Christmas season a safe season for street kids and discourage them from continuing mendicancy where they can seriously injure themselves by jumping from one public utility vehicle to another or by tapping the windows of privately-owned vehicles,” the Social Welfare chief added.
Taguiwalo has called on local government units, especially at the village level, to coordinate closely in discouraging kids from begging on the streets.
She said village officials should instead hold activities that promote street children’s physical and mental health, such as making lanterns and other Christmas decors, singing, dancing, and art contests.
“This way, the community becomes a part of the solution,” Taguiwalo said.