I went to a sales seminar in Binan (pronounced as Binyan), Laguna on a Tuesday- July 12, 2011. I took a jeepney ride from Muntinliupa City to Binan, Laguna here in the Philippines. I was surprised to see street beggars in the streets of Binyan, Laguna. The organized beggars are mostly children under the age of 10. They would usually board the jeepneys to give out small envelopes to passengers. Since jeepneys are the most accessible means of public transportation in the Philippines, beggars can easily board any jeep. Beggars distribute out small envelopes to jeepney-passengers expecting them to give out monies. The outer layers of the small envelopes have written words requesting for monies. Such "begging children" are usually accompanied by female adults. The female adults are usually the relatives or immediate guardians of the "begging children".
My activist-friend Robin Mercado has already told me about such issue way back last January of this year. Robin Mercado was the one who convinced me to join an anti-slavery group here in the Philippines. I only joined the anti-slavery campaign this January of the present year. Robin Mercado told me that such "organized beggars" are being enslaved to beg in the streets by crime syndicates. Those “ employed beggars" are transported in vans or trucks to various parts of the country and are tasked to live in the streets from 3 days to one week in order to beg for monies. After the “enslaved beggars” have accomplished their "field-work", the crime syndicates would later come back to fetch such ‘slaves’ back to their so-called ‘headquarters’. The employed beggars are transported back to a big warehouse and would stay there for one week before going back to the streets in order to beg again. The warehouses are often dirty and do lack sanitary guidelines. The enslaved beggars are usually given unhealthy foods and treated as personal properties of the members of crime syndicates.
Many anti-slavery organizations in the Philippines had already called the attention of the government about this problem of ‘organized begging’ in the streets. Up to this day no concrete bills have been enacted that would ward off organized begging in the urban areas and save the employed beggars, most of whom are women and children, from the hands of crime syndicates.
Women and children from some parts of the Philippines are being forced to work as beggars in the streets. It is obvious that crime syndicates are exploiting such beggars to gain monies. Many of such “employed beggars” actually cane from tribal areas in Southern Philippines. Police officers and social workers are at a lost in dealing with such social problem. Legislators in both houses have not yet enacted concrete bill that would effectively ban “organized begging” all over the country. Meanwhile, children as young as 4 years old are being enslaved to become beggars in the streets. The members of the crime syndicates that are involved with “organized begging” are actually earning big bucks while the poor beggars are living under miserable conditions.
There should be new laws in the Philippines that will ban “organized begging” all over the country and save the exploited women and children from being enslaved as beggars. I hope that the Philippine government would take a closer look at this huge social problem.