Anti-mendicancy drive intensified, nets 18 kids

Personnel of Task Force Ordinance rounded up last week 18 mendicants as the city government of Zamboanga through the City Administrator’s Office is implementing Ordinance 351, establishing an integrated system to prevent mendicancy in the city.

Assistant City Administrator Cesar Raz said the apprehended mendicants mostly minors were turned over to the City Social Welfare and Development Office.

Under Ordinance 351, mendicants refer to any persons who habitually solicit and beg for a living and have no visible and legal means of support and lawful means of employment either physically fit or persons with disability.

The ordinance also penalizes any persons who abet mendicancy by giving financial assistance directly to the mendicants except those authorized by the city mayor. Violating this provision shall be fined P2,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.

A fine of P5,000 and/or imprisonment shall also be imposed on any persons who utilize, use, exploit any minor, disabled, sick with infirmity in mendicancy.

However, the ordinance provides for exemption under Section 6 wherein any infants or children or minors over eight years old and under 18 years of age found begging shall be exempted from criminal liability and shall be committed to the care of their parents or, otherwise be apprehended under Article 141 of PD 603 and committed to the care of the DSWD or to any duly licensed child placement agency or individual or non-government agencies duly accredited by the city government of Zamboanga and the DSWD.

Persons over 60 years of age found neglected or abandoned shall be taken under the care and custody of the CSWDO, and if found to be non-resident of this city shall be returned to his original place at the expense of the CSWDO. Any groups or associations soliciting for any lawful events such as but not limited to fiestas, civic, scholastic and religious activities must secure solicitation permit from the barangay chairman and the city mayor.-(Vic Larato)