Begging for food and money in Boracay Island and the whole municipality of Malay, Aklan will now be a no-no with Municipal Ordinance No. 354 – an ordinance establishing an organized system of regulating or eradicating mendicancy in the whole town now in place.
The municipal ordinance, which was introduced by Malay SB members Natalie C. Paderes and Rowen T. Aguirre also provides penalties, appropriating funds thereto and for other purposes.
According to the two SB members, the ordinance aims to prevent commission of mendicancy, exploitation of minors through mendicancy and provide rehabilitative services for those already exploited or in immediate danger of exploitation; promote rehabilitation of mendicants and exploited minors found begging by providing developmental, preventive, interceptive, remedial and rehabilitative services; and promote rehabilitation of persons with disabilities by providing short-term developmental and rehabilitative programs or services.
Based on the ordinance, considered mendicants are those capable of earning a living but opting to beg in the streets, offices and other places where people converge, including those who preach for the purpose of soliciting money from the public; and those below 18 years of age who roam the streets and beg for food and money in hotels, restaurants, plazas and private and public offices.
Also considered mendicants, as described by the ordinance, are persons with some forms of disabilities and use this to beg on the streets; those who exploit minors or their own children to beg; those who use fake solicitation letters, communications or documents from the DSWD, the Municipal Health Office and other government agencies to obtain money from public and private individuals; and indigenous people who roam the streets begging for food an money.
Those found abetting mendicancy by voluntarily giving or offering alms, money, food and other material things to the mendicants shall be fined P1,000.00; while a mendicant who continues to beg after having been given rehabilitative programs or services under this ordinance will be fined P500.00 or imprisonment of not less than 1 month and not more than 3 months.
On the other hand, a habitual mendicant shall suffer a fine of P1,000.00 or imprisonment of not less than 3 months but not more than 6 months. Parents who exploit their minor children or use them to beg shall be fined P2,500.00 or imprisonment of not less that 3 months and not more than 6 months.
A person or group of persons who promotes mendicancy or uses exploited minors shall be fined P2,500.00 or an imprisonment of not less than three months but not more than 6 months.
Not covered by the ordinance are charitable institutions, religious or educational organization duly formed or organized under international or Philippine laws and accredited by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO).
The ordinance stressed that the public must be discouraged from giving alms directly to mendicants, and instead contribute or donate only to lawful fund-raising projects or to charitable institutions and other organized agencies or entities.