The final output of my Komunikasyon 2 class in UPD is a 20-page research paper on a topic of your choice. I nominated three topics and, of course, the one that got approved was my last choice–Ang Sining ng Panlilimos (The Art of Begging). The paper is supposed to be about the different means and ways of begging in Muntinlupa City. Since the paper is due in two weeks, I decided to go around to interview some of the beggars around the city. What I thought would be a simple Q&A about how much these street kids earned from knocking on windows and helping customers park their cars turned into a revelation of sorts for me.

I was talking to three boys, Darwin, 12, Reka, 11, and Joy-joy, 3. They told me about their reasons for begging, what it was like on the streets, and how much they earned from a day of begging. I asked them about their encounters with the law, and was quite shocked to learn that, according to them, the same government agency that actively campaigns against child abuse (hint: they sued Willie Revillame for child abuse after the Jan-Jan controversy) was the same one that would beat these children for begging on the streets.

According to the boys, they would be taken into DSWD custody and then given a choice–to be beaten by a metal pipe or whipped by a garden hose. Then, they would be beaten behind the thighs. If they didn’t choose, they would be beaten anyway. Is this how eleven-year old kids are supposed to be treated? The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 explicitly prohibits corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure or a sentence for crime, yet these underground practices continue to flourish.

It doesn’t end with the DSWD though. Two more boys I talked to, Brixz, 13, and Daniel, 12, said that they would be chased by officials of Brgy. Ayala Alabang on motorcycles, who would run their feet over. Is this how our government officials compensate for their failure to provide the adequate social services for these people? Are we going to resort to violence to care for our children, the future of our nation? I mean, we don’t even do this to rapists, murderers, and terrorists! If they end up beating their children in the future, we know who to blame.

Would little children lie about this? Talk about hypocrisy!

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