‘FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY’: City gov’t rescues, sends 23 Badjaos back to Mindanao

Iloilo City Government Photo

By John Noel E. Herrera

The “Sea Gypsies” of the Sulu and Celebes seas, also known as Badjaos, have returned to the streets of Iloilo City and started asking for alms.

The Iloilo City Government emphasized that Badjaos who loiter in the streets of the city need to be rescued as they do not just compromise their own safety, but of the locals as well.

On Oct 7, 2022, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Trenas’ executive assistant, Hector Alejano Sr., together with the Iloilo City Social Welfare Office (CSWDO) and Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) conducted an operation where they were able to rescue 23 Badjaos roaming around the streets of Iloilo City.

They were mostly seen at the Tagbak Terminal and other transport terminals asking for alms from the motorists, unmindful of their safety, and roaming under the bridge in Barangay Buhang in the Jaro district.

CSWDO officer Teresa Gelogo said that out of the 23 rescued Badjaos, 12 were minors (as young as 2 years old), while 11 were adults.

In an interview with CSWDO, Badjaos said they came to Iloilo City to ask for Christmas gifts, and other Badjaos are also expected to come in several days.

The Badjaos were then transported by the CSWDO and the PSTMO to the Dumangas Port in Dumangas, Iloilo, as the city government coordinated with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for the Badjaos’ transfer to Bacolod City and sending them back to their place in Mindanao.

The PCG also assured the city government that they would keep watch for other expected arrivals of Badjaos and make sure that they could not come back to the city.

Meanwhile, Alejano clarified that the city government is not showing any discriminatory actions against these Badjaos as they are even protecting them, particularly the younger ones, from imminent dangers in the streets.

However, he also explained that these Badjaos are violating the city ordinance and the national law on mendicancy.