BAGUIO CITY – The proliferation of mendicants in the city of pines coming from nearby municipalities has alarmed and created concern among the residents in this city.
It is for this reason that mayor Mauricio Domogan recently convened the concerned agencies as well as public and private groups and associations to intensify the task force to address the mendicancy concerns in the city of Baguio.
The city government here together with the task force composed of the Baguio City Police Office, Baguio General Hospital and medical Center, Philippines Information Agency-CAR, Department of Interior and Local Government-CAR, Department of Trade and Industry-CAR, Bureau of Jail management and Penology-CAR, Department of Social Welfare and Development-CAR, Commission on Human Rights-CAR, Philippine Mental Health Association-Baguio- Benguet Chapter, and the different transport groups like Victory Liners Inc., Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Dangwa Tranco Inc., Dagupan Bus Company, Genesis, among others recently renewed its commitment through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to restore the duties and responsibilities in protecting and promoting the right to health and instill health consciousness among the mendicants.
Said MOA aims to accelerate community development and contribute to national progress with healthy citizens of the city of Baguio and to create massive public awareness on the role of the family, different sectors of the society in their contribution to mental health.
It is recalled that then president Ferdinand Marcos signed presidential Decree 1563 on June 11, 1978: “Establishing an Integrated System for the Control and Eradication of Mendicancy providing penalties, appropriating funds therefore, and other purposes”.
Renewing its commitment to address the mendicancy concerns in the city, the different stakeholders signed the MOA Friday, Feb. 12 at the city mayor’s office.
In the agreement, it is the responsibility of the city government here to take the lead in the planning, citywide implementation, information dissemination and monitoring of the project and to coordinate with all member agencies of the task force as well as with other concerned public and private groups and associations to ensure its success.
The City Social Welfare and Development Office will conduct intake, interview and assess clients then turn over clients to their families with the assistance of the PNP or turn over to the LGU in the municipality of origin for further intervention. The CSWDO will provide psychosocial interventions as well as temporary shelter and other basic needs to mendicants in accordance to the policies set for the use of the Silungan Center.
While, the BCPO will monitor and apprehend mendicants and psychotic vagrant; turn over mendicants and psychotic vagrants to the CSWDO; assist in transporting clients to the hospital or residence and coordinate with the CSWDO regarding apprehension of mendicants and psychotic vagrants.
On the other hand, BGHMC will conduct psychiatric examinations and treatment of vagrant psychotic on an in-patient or out-patient basis; refer the client to other departments of the hospital for further evaluation and conduct training to personnel of concerned GOs and NGOs on the screening and identification of psychosocial problems of psychotic and non-psychotic vagrants and mendicants.
The PIA will assist in the preparation of advocacy materials needed in the campaign for the proper management of mendicants. Together with the PIA, the DILG and DTI will assist in the information dissemination on the anti-mendicancy law.
DSWD will assist in locating family of mendicants outside the city, augment food and financial assistance for mendicants going out from the city, and provide temporary shelter for mendicants especially from manila under the Sagip Kalinga Program before they are turned over to the LGUs.
The BJMP will also provide temporary shelter for mendicants who can no longer be accommodated by the silungan center of the CSWDO, assist in escorting mendicants outside the city and provide rehabilitative program for mendicants if necessary.
CHR will coordinate with the DSWD and BCPO any reports of mendicants and psychotic vagrants while the PMHA will assist in the conduct of information education campaign on the prevention of mental illness and promotion of mental health.
The different transport groups will assist in transporting recovered mendicants and psychotic vagrants and refuse boarding of unaccompanied/unescorted mendicants and psychotic vagrants.
“Let us be united in eradicating, if not, minimize and control the proliferation of mendicants in the city of Baguio,” said Domogan.
On the other hand, the public are discouraged from giving alms to mendicants roaming around the city./Jho Arranz