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Erap wants street dwellers off Roxas Boulevard

MANILA, Philippines — The city government of Manila will ask the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Manila Police District to permanently station personnel to drive away street dwellers and illegal vendors from Roxas Boulevard and major city roads.

Mayor Joseph Estrada said with Christmas fast approaching, there has been an increasing number of vagrants, most of them Badjaos asking for alms, at Baywalk and public parks and promenade areas.

Citing Presidential Decree 1563 or the Mendicancy Law of 1978, Estrada said the city government is only trying to ensure the safety and welfare of both the public and the mendicants from criminals and road hazards.

He pointed out that the constant presence of uniformed law enforcers in the streets would serve as a deterrent to vagrants, illegal vendors and petty criminals such as robbers and snatchers taking advantage of the holiday season.

Manila social welfare chief Nanette Tanyag said there have been recent incidents of foreigners and tourists strolling along Baywalk being harassed by beggars and street children asking for money. Some have lost valuable items such as mobile phones to snatchers and thieves, she added.

Tanyag said at least 50 homeless persons have been roaming Roxas Boulevard alone, begging for alms.

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She said the law against mendicancy penalizes “habitual mendicants” with fines ranging from P500 to P1,000 or a prison term of two years to four years.

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