Kagawad defends Badjao renters

By Felipe V. Celino 

ROXAS CITY, Capiz – A barangay kagawad defended the Badjaos who rented her boarding house at Brgy. 9 here.

Kagawad Gina Roxas said the P30 daily rent paid by each Badjao is very minimal and it only covered the electricity and water they consumed.

She added that there is nothing wrong if the indigenous people from Mindanao rent her place.

“At least we cannot see them sleeping in the streets and they have their temporary home,” she added.

Roxas said that not all Badjaos beg on the streets as some of them sell “burloloy” or trinkets.

Meanwhile, the Badjaos denied allegations that they hurt Capiceños who don’t give them alms.

According to their spokesman Aldosalde Jumahali, they moved to Roxas City because the place is peaceful unlike in Mindanao where they are always under threat, particularly from the Abu Sayaff.

“We have businesses here. We were also looking for jobs but no one accepted us because of our status in life,” Jumahali told reporters here, adding that some of them indeed begged for food.

The issue against the Badjaos became controversial after a member of the Sanggunian Panlungsod (SP) here proposed an ordinance banning Badjaos begging in public.

City Councilor Midelo Ocampo clarified that the ordinance does not discriminate Badjaos from Mindanao but he was more concerned with their actions “because once you do not give them alms, some of them badmouth the people and sometimes threaten to hurt those who would not like to give alms.”

Ocampo said he once witnessed a Badjao badmouthing someone on the street.

Meanwhile, Semionette Beluso, acting chief of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), said her office had gathered the Badjaos and sent them back home. But they returned months later.

Beluso said she agreed with Ocampo’s proposed ordinance to ban begging Badjaos in the city.