Don’t ‘deport’ Badjaos, city officials asked
A Mindanao lawmaker on Thursday called out Iloilo city officials for rounding up and sending back to their provinces members of the Badjao tribe found loitering in the city as beggars.
In a statement, Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman urged city officials to “act with caution and care” in dealing with the Badjaos to ensure that their rights are protected.
“Simply sending mendicants away does not address the underlying problems that brought these Badjaos to urban centers,” he said.
Hataman was reacting to reports of the Badjaos’ impending “deportation” from Iloilo City next month, preceded by notices to Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan and the local offices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“Deported” Badjaos who return to the city will be rounded up again and sent back, said Hector Alejano, executive assistant to Iloilo City Mayor Gerry Treñas.
But Hataman said Badjaos—also known as sea gypsies because they live on coastal areas and make a living from the Sulu Sea—had been displaced by decades of conflict in Mindanao and have no access to health care, government social services or education.
“This makes them extremely vulnerable to exploitation from syndicates who make beggars of them in our cities,” Hataman said, adding that the government should provide “long-term solutions” to the problem.