NBI hunts person behind Badjaos’ trip from Zamboanga to Manila
MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation and an antihuman trafficking task force would ascertain the real identity of the unnamed person who allegedly facilitated the travel of a group of Badjaos (also known as Bajao or Bajau) from Zamboanga, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Monday.
Guevarra said he had ordered the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Iacat), which included the NBI among its member-agencies, to look into the arrival of 303 Badjaos who were intercepted by authorities on Friday after disembarking from a passenger ship at Manila North Harbour Seaport.
“The Iacat has expressed serious trafficking concerns about the mass arrival of Badjaos in Metro Manila,” Guevarra told the Inquirer.
Asked if the NBI would be locating the whereabouts of the person who allegedly paid for the travel of the indigenous people, he said: “That will be part of the investigation.”
The Iacat earlier suspected that the Badjaos, a group of nomadic sea gypsies originally from Basilan and Sulu provinces, had fallen victims to human traffickers who may use them for illegal money-making scheme as street beggars.
Nadine Bernardino, administrative officer of Iacat, said four of the Badjaos had tested positive for the new coronavirus, prompting authorities to place 21 of them in a quarantine facility in Parañaque City.
She said the Department of Social Welfare and Development had paid for the travel fares of 250 of the rescued Badjaos, who were scheduled to return by passenger ship to Zamboanga on Monday night.
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