BADJAOS ARE BACK: PSTMO rounds up 62 IPs on streets

THE Iloilo City Public Safety and Transportation Management Office and other agencies round up Badjaos on Monday. (Photo courtesy of PSTMO Iloilo City)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE “Sea Gypsies” of Sulu and Celebes Seas, also known as Badjaos, are back in Iloilo City for the nth time.

The Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) together with the City Social and Welfare Development Office (CSWDO), Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD), and the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) rounded up 62 both adult and minor Badjaos in their joint operations on Monday.

PSTMO head Jeck Conlu said the 62 individuals came from 13 families of Badjao spread across the metro.

“33 of whom are adults and 29 are minors,” Conlu said in an interview.

Conlu said the Badjaos were brought to Jaro Gymnasium for an orientation by the CSWDO and DSWD on their violations of city ordinances.

“Gintipon sila para ipaathag na may violation sila nga gina-commit, kag kun ano nga mga consequences sang ila ginaubra,” he said.

After the orientation, Conlu said they will start conducting apprehensions starting today, April 3, 2019.

Adult Badjaos who will be apprehended will be jailed while the minors will be turned over to the Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) of CSWDO, Conlu said.

“Kun madakpan sila kag makita naton nga giinagamit nila ang ila kabataan, pagadal-on ang ila kabataan sa CIU and ang adults ya paga-presohon under the Anti-Mendicancy Ordinance,” he said.

Conlu said he is now coordinating with DSWD for a facility that would serve as a temporary center to house the Badjaos scattered in the streets of Iloilo and neighboring municipalities.

“We are trying to communicate with DSWD, kun pwede ubrahan sang facility sa province or island sa Panay para may ara nga facility center nga temporary pagadal-an naton sa ila,” he explained.

Conlu added that he is also in talks with the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for the posting of signage on public utility vehicles (PUVs) to remind the drivers and passengers to avoid giving alms to Badjaos.

“Ginabawal na mahatag kita sa ila and it is under the law. Kun gusto naton mabulig, idretso hatag sa CSWD or DSWD,” he stressed.

The Badjaos, who thrive as mendicants, keep coming back to the city despite efforts by the PSTMO to send them home.

Conlu said the kindness and generosity of Ilonggos have attracted the Badjaos to keep on coming back to city.

Under Iloilo City Regulation Ordinance 2002-400, the City government will penalize those caught begging with a P500 fine, imprisonment of not more than a year, or both.

Those caught giving to mendicants will be fined P500 or do community service.

Aside from the ordinance, Presidential Decree 1563 also prohibits mendicancy.

The decree or the Anti-Mendicancy Law prohibits the public from extending assistance particularly monetary to mendicant or any person who has no visible and legal means of support, or lawful employment and who is physically able to work but neglects to apply himself to some lawful calling and instead uses begging as a means of living.