DSWD targets 'beggar syndicate' bringing IPs to Metro Manila

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 22 2022 07:20 PM

Fr. Flavie Villanueva, head of the Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center in Sta. Cruz Manila, negotiates with police to allow the center to receive beggars and the homeless for their feeding and care program on March 21, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file
Fr. Flavie Villanueva, head of the Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center in Sta. Cruz Manila, negotiates with police to allow the center to receive beggars and the homeless for their feeding and care program on March 21, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is going after a “syndicate” that is said to be behind the yearly influx of indigenous peoples (IPs) in Metro Manila during Christmas time, Secretary Erwin Tulfo said Tuesday. 

“There’s into it eh. Malalim… Meron silang grupo talaga, kasi may naga-accommodate sa kanila. Meron silang for rent na 12 hours shift. Kunyari, 12 hours kayo, P50 (per head) for resting. Pag babangon kayo, another 12 hours naman yung isang grupo na naman,” Tulfo disclosed.

The DSWD estimates these IPs asking for alms earn between P4,000 to P5,000 daily.

As for the victim-IPs, the DSWD is now rescuing them, Tulfo said. 

“We’re operating it now. So far, we have 130 sent home, since Thursday and then kaninang umaga. We’re giving them food packs and kits. Pero we will not give them the money. Instead, we will give the money to our provincial social welfare office. Sila ang magdi-distribute,” Tulfo said.

Those that they were able to rescue are Tausugs according to Tulfo.

The DSWD has started coordinating with the local government units concerned to ensure that the victimized IPs will not be duped again.

Officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) are now also appealing to shipping companies not to allow their constituents to board ships.

“In the next few days, we will be coordinating with the (Philippine) Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation and the PNP na harangin na doon pa lang. And then, yung mga nagpapautang pwede silang kasuhan ng trafficking.. saka violence against women and children,” Tulfo said.

As for IPs in Region 3, local government units in Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales already have existing “interventions” to stop Aetas from leaving their communities.

Tulfo maintained the public should not give alms to these beggars because it encourages them to return in Metro Manila and beg.