Christmas Caroling Banned on Manila Streets

Manila authorities have banned Christmas carol singers from the streets for safety reasons and warned Sunday they would round up any who flouted the new rule.

Bayani Fernando, who chairs the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, which overseas traffic and road safety, said the ban would take effect Monday and was due to concerns about road traffic.

“The plan, controversial as it might be, is not done out of whim but rather for the safety of the children and the motorists,” he said.

Singers, including children from surrounding slums, have been converging on major Manila street intersections, knocking on vehicle windows for cash while carolling.

Last year a child was killed when he was run over by a speeding truck.

Fernando said groups of carol singers would still be able to go from house to house in suburban areas where they would not affect road traffic.

“What we are against are those who dart across thoroughfares knocking on vehicle windows to beg for alms since this is a surefire way to get maimed or killed,” he said on radio in response to criticism.

He urged people “not to give alms” to street children and singers, saying doing so encourage them to stay on the streets where they were in danger. “Let us just give to charitable institutions which can help more.”

Fernando said those rounded up would be handed over to the social welfare department.

The Philippines is Asia’s bastion of Roman Catholicism, with more than 80 percent of its 87 million belonging to that faith.

It also celebrates arguably the world’s longest Christmas season, starting officially on December 16 with dawn masses.

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