What Is an Anti-Mendicancy Law?

Anti-mendicancy laws forbid begging or the soliciting of charitable donations by the poor or religious organizations in the streets. They are epitomized by Presidential Decree No. 1563, an anti-mendicancy law implemented in the Philippines by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1978. Though controversial, as of 2014, it is still in effect.

Known as the Anti-Mendicancy Law of 1978, Presidential Decree No. 1563 was an effort to control and eventually eradicate widespread street begging in the Philippines. According to the provisions of the statute, minors under 15 years old caught begging are deemed neglected children and can be apprehended by the Department of Social Services. Adults are subject to heavy fines and can be imprisoned for up to four years. People giving money or gifts to mendicants are also liable to be fined.

Since its implementation, the law was controversial because it was for the most part ineffective and included not only professional beggars but also religious organizations, Christmas carolers and the genuine poor who were unable to find work. Missionaries objected that they were unable to request donations while preaching, although they passed the donations on to the church and did not depend on them for their livelihoods. Villagers and tribal people moving to cities looking for work claimed that the statute criminalized poverty.

In December 2014, the secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development forbade the public from offering donations to Christmas carolers under the terms of Presidential Order No. 1563.