CEBU, Philippines — Starting last week, the Cebu City Department of Social Welfare and Services has been conducting daily rescue operation of street dwellers in the city.
This was after the office observed that there is a proliferation of street dwellers in the city due to the yuletide season.
“Tungod ni kay nagkaduol naman ang Pasko, nianhi sila kay mamasko,” DSWS chairperson and former city councilor Lea Japson told The FREEMAN.
Street kids along with their parents sing Christmas carols in exchange for loose change in public utility jeepneys, crisscrossing through traffic, unmindful of the danger they pose to motorists crossing their paths.
Last week, the DSWS team in cooperation with Task Force for Street Children, Women’s and Children Desk in Cebu City Police Station, barangay officials, and non-governmental organizations started making rounds from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m.
At least 14 individuals were rescued from the main streets in the city especially at Fuente Osmeña, and B. Rodriguez Street, among others.
The rescued street dwellers were sheltered at Parian Drop-in Center and Community Scout Youth Guidance Center.
Those rescued who are not from Cebu City will be turned over to their respective towns and cities by the DSWS.
Japson said they changed the schedule of rescue operation from weekly to daily so that the street dwellers would notice that the city government is serious in addressing this issue.
“Nagcoordinate mi sa nagkalain-lain nga station kung asa na sila dapita together with the barangays concerned kay nakahibaw mi nga basta ingon aron daghan gyud nga street children, hasta dili children naa,” Japson said.
She then reiterated that the problem of street dwellers is hard to deal with since these individuals keep coming back to the streets.
Japson said putting up a city-owned shelter for the rescued individuals is not a solution to this problem.
“Kung mobuhat mi’g center para nila daghan na ang moanhi na nuon kay naa’y center para ana. Ang amo ra gyud, operation everyday unya kinsa to kinahanglan mauli, iuli,” she said.
Meanwhile, DSWS is now conducting an information drive about the city’s government intent to strictly implement the Anti-Mendicancy Law.
The DSWS team will begin posting stickers in jeepneys and distributing to flyers about the anti-mendicancy law to the public.
Japson said that after a month-long information drive, DSWS will start strictly enforcing the law. (FREEMAN)