PH slumdogs: Kidnapped kids used to beg alms

Posted at 11/22/2012 9:54 PM | Updated as of 11/22/2012 10:32 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Several criminal syndicates kidnap children and force them to beg alms on the streets, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said.

"Meron talagang mga sindikato na gumagamit ng mga bata na nakukuha nila o kung minsan ay ibinibigay ng mga magulang at 'yan ay aming minamanmanan," DSWD Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman said on Punto por Punto Thursday.

"At ang pinakamalungkot nga talaga ay kapwa natin Pilipino ang gumagawa nito. Gagamitin 'yung mga bata, ninanakaw ang kanilang pagkabata at kinakasangkapan para magka-pera ka sa pamamagitan ng paggamit sa kanila, ng pagpapalimos," she added.

The social welfare secretary lamented that only a few cases are being reported to the agency.

Soliman said, "Unfortunately, hindi nga narereport 'yan kasi ang lumalabas missing."

Modus operandi

Soliman said kidnapped children are usually brought to faraway places and sometimes even in the provinces where they will be used to beg for money on the streets.

Often, criminal syndicates would beat up children who are not able to collect their desired amount of money.

She said, "Kung minsan, ito 'yung pinakamasakit, gagawan pa nila ng kapansanan 'yung bata para lalong maawa 'yung magbibigay."

"Kaya para sa akin, kailangang ikulong at kunin itong mga walang pusong mga taong ito," Soliman said.

Parents using their own kids to earn money

The social welfare secretary said it is also important to note that aside from criminal syndicates, some parents also force their own children to beg or vend on the streets.

Some street children even roam around along with their mothers, Soliman noted.

She said in order to prevent these incidents, DSWD closely coordinates with barangay councils.

They are the ones tasked to ensure that children are off the streets, she said.

"'Pag nakuha 'yung mga bata at sinoli sa magulang, may kasamang pagpapayo sa magulang at pipirma sila ng kasunduan na sila ay mangangalaga na talaga at sisiguraduhing 'di na babalik sa kalsada (ang mga bata)."

She added that if caught for the third time, the children will then be taken and brought to the DWSD, where the children would be given shelter and opportunity to study until they reach the age of 18.

"'Pag ang magulang 'di mo kayang alagaan ang bata at worse, sila pa 'yung pinagtatrabaho mo imbes na ikaw ang magtrabaho, 'di ka na karapat-dapat na mag-alaga pa ng bata. Wala kang karapatang maging magulang," Soliman said.

'Public should not give alms to street children'

Soliman, meanwhile, appealed to the public not to give money to children they see on the street.

"Dapat imbes na bibigyan natin, hanapin 'yung mga nanay o kaya dalhin niyo sa barangay council o sa MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority)," she said.

"Alam kong mahirap, alam kong parang ang tigas talaga ng puso mo kapag 'di ka naman naantig. Pero pakiusap ko ho kung gusto niyong tumulong, ibigay na lang po ninyo (ang mga bata) sa pinagkakatiwalaan niyong foundation, faith-based organization o kaya sa barangay mismo kung saan niyo sila nakita."

"Kasi hangga't may nagbibigay po, meron at merong mga batang mamalimos," Soliman said.