MANILA — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced Wednesday that it will provide incentives to barangays situated along major thoroughfares in Metro Manila that will implement “diversion programs” to prevent children from carolling in the streets.

DSWD Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Javier Jimenez said the agency will be giving financial assistance amounting to PhP100,000 to every barangay that will implement activities that will discourage children from carolling and asking presents from motorists passing through major roads in the metropolis.

Jimenez said that the strategy is a way to boost efforts to eliminate accidents during the Yuletide season.

Children usually transfer from one moving vehicle to another and sing Christmas carols in exchange for a sum of money from motorists and commuters.

Recognizing the danger posed by the said practice to the lives of the children, Jimenez said they have sought the help of the barangay council for the protection of children (BCPC) to encourage them to do carollings within the safe area of the barangays where they belong.

Jimenez said that such strategy was started last year in which they initially had provided PhP50,000 worth of financial assistance to compliant barangays.

This year, he said that the DSWD had increased the amount to PhP100,000 per barangay in order for the BCPCs to ensure the cooperation of their respective communities for the said initiative.

Through the joint efforts of DSWD, BCPC and street facilitators, the children can receive gifts and money without risking their lives in street carolling.

He said that with the funds to be received by the identified barangays in 10 major thoroughfares in Metro Manila, the BCPC of the barangays in cooperation with other partners can create different activities that will make the children busy such as lantern and ‘belen’ (Nativity display) making, and other worthwhile Christmas-themed activities and contests where they can earn money and receive gifts at the same time.

The said activities also include Christmas parties where children can eat together, participate in different games, bring home some cash prizes and Noche Buena packages.

The agency also said kind-hearted and generous donors who want to donate or participate in the activities are welcome.

Those who are interested to donate to particular barangays included in the program may visit the DSWD donation website (dswd.gov.ph).

Jimenez said the initiative is a part of their continuous efforts in exploring ways to discourage children from going to major thoroughfares during the onset of the Christmas season in order to save them from any untoward incident.

Currently, he said they are coming up with the list of barangays who will receive the assistance together with members of BCPC and other street facilitators for the program.

Earlier, DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman also reminded the public not to give money to children carollers as this encourages them to continue the said practice which may put their lives at risk.

“While it is difficult to resist the act of giving when you see them knocking at the vehicles or going up and down from one vehicle to another, the point here is bearing in mind the children’s safety…Giving them will just encourage them to keep on going to the major thoroughfares which we really discourage,” Soliman warned.

With the initiatives the agency is implementing in cooperation with BCPC, Soliman said she is hopeful that other people or groups wanting to help children will participate in these activities or support them through other means.

She also reminded parents and barangay officials to keep on watching and reminding children about the dangers of street carolling. Leilani S. Junio/PNA