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Concerns rise over begging issues at Legazpi malls

Manuel T. Ugalde

In a surprising twist from the typical sight of Badjao natives during the Christmas season, the spotlight is now on local young beggars, not the usual itinerant Badjao community. A 72-year-old Canadian citizen, frustrated by encounters with beggars at popular food establishments like Mcdo, Jollibee, and Chowking in Ayala Mall, speaks out against the lack of security measures.

Operating as early as 6 in the morning, these food establishments face a challenge with persistent young beggars freely entering, disturbing customers, and causing inconvenience. The Canadian citizen, married to a Legazpi resident, voiced his dismay, prompting his return to Canada after a three-month stay with his wife.

His wife, Laura Lalaine Frias, 61, expressed concerns over the abuse of goodwill, questioning why these young beggars aren’t in school, given the government’s substantial funds for health and children’s education, such as the Pantawid Pangkabuhayan Pilipino Program (4Ps). This sentiment is echoed by a group of senior citizens, the Ragtag Group, who meet at the food houses daily and complain about both beggars and the establishments’ lax restrictions.

The group’s coordinator, Filipino US Navy retiree Ben Roquid, 74, highlighted the beggars’ tactics, noting their possession of cellphones and sling bags, projecting a pitiable image during peak hours. They suggest the need for cities in Bicol to consider ordinances penalizing those who give to beggars, similar to Cebu City and Pampanga.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) places responsibility on local government units, claiming they have the personnel and police to address the issue. However, the senior citizens argue that begging is less prevalent at the Legazpi SM Mall, where stringent security measures are in place.

Mrs. Frias shared an incident where her husband’s act of kindness backfired when a young beggar not only consumed the shared food but also dared to ask for more. The senior citizens appeal to the city government to enforce security measures at food establishments, aiming to safeguard customers from the disturbances caused by persistent beggars.


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