Wake Up, Philippines!

Children of the poor

NEEDLESS to say, mendicancy foments ruinous sentiments that often enough pervade among the homeless, particularly the children of the poor.

The unabated increase in the number of street children these days is easily seen all around Metro Manila, but especially in the Capital City.

This has been noted by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim himself, prompting him to order the round up of all children and beggars and mendicants found “loitering on the city roads and thoroughfares.”

Lim wants the city cleared of “street urchins and beggars” to ensure the smooth flow of vehicular traffic and to give back to pedestrians the sidewalks purposely provided for their use.

The city government is right, of course: The stubborn presence of homeless children on city streets has been causing the negative image of the City of Manila, particularly to foreign tourists.

Still, there are human issues that the city government needs to look into such as the emotional upheavals that the homeless children undergo through their young lives that could be worsened by the harsh government action being planned against them.

Again, needless to say, the abuse and neglect that the homeless children experience day in and day out in their hapless existence already give a distorted sense of self and family.

The implementation of Mayor Lim’s order to round them up could very easily further injure the already deformed image of themselves.

And that is unfortunate: Homelessness mixed with such form of government violence is certainly detrimental to their hopeless situation.

The fact is, the sad consequence is not alone in the absence of a home which, of course, means the weakening of every aspect of family life but on the damage on the emotional health of family ties that often results in the disconnections of family members.

According to studies, homelessness causes health problems such as respiratory infections, stomach and diarrheal infections; emergency hospitalization; and not the least, asthma.

In his directive, Lim called the homeless children eyesores who are in most cases “engaged in petty crimes like bag snatching and pickpocketing, as their source of livelihood.”

He also said a lot of street children are known to be sniffing rugby and other prohibited substances to get high.

He expressed pity for them and promised assistance through Manila’s department of social welfare.

What the government needs to do is address the root problems of homelessness and extend help to poor families to make them progressive and self-sufficient to raise their children more responsibly.

Still on Lim’s vexed problems, the Mayor the other day told the Manila police to “put immediate end to the gang wars in the city.”

There are some 30 street gangs that are causing public disturbances in Metro Manila area, according to the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission.

The gangs, reports said, were involved mostly in robbery and drug trafficking.

Given the style how Mayor Lim operates, many are confident he could overcome Manila’s problems sooner than later.

(zhern_218@yahoo.com)

Author:  HERN P. ZENAROSA
Source: http://www.mb.com.ph/OPED20090203147186.html

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