Badjao fishers desperate to provide food for kin nabbed for dynamite fishing
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – At least 26 Badjao fishermen were arrested Thursday for allegedly using dynamite in fishing.
Rear Admiral Reynaldo Yoma, commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao, said those apprehended were onboard 19 pump boats that were intercepted near Little Santa Cruz Island here on New Year’s Day.
“They were conducting dynamite fishing,” Yoma said of the Badjaos, who were also internally displaced persons living in the Masepla Transitory Site in Mampang village here.
Their families learned about the arrest the day after.
On Friday, relatives of those arrested trooped to the Don Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex to seek help as they were already hungry.
“These Badjaos walked and marched from Masepla to the grandstand, they were all crying and very hungry,” Ramada Jose, former camp peacekeeper at the sports complex, said.
Masepla is some 10 kilometers away from the sports complex where hundreds of evacuees, who were displaced by the war between government forces and members of the Moro National Liberation Front members more than a year ago, are staying.
“They were all worried because their husbands and children who went fishing failed to return on January 1 and they learned last night they were arrested because of dynamite fishing,” he added.
Jose said the Badjaos had nothing to eat as their husbands and family members, who went fishing, have been arrested.
“They were initially driven away by the (sports complex) command post personnel and that caused the commotion. It was raining and they did not have a place to stay that night while awaiting results of their husbands’ condition in the hands of our authorities,” Jose added.
Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, the city police chief, said the arrested fishermen were turned over to Maritime police.
Maria Socorro Roxas, the city social welfare officer, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that Navy personnel took hold of the bancas “because they were caught illegally fishing.”
“We managed to convince them to return to Masepla that night and we gave them food packs. They were really hungry,” Roxas said.
She admitted that the Masepla residents still have not received livelihood support from government, “and we know many of them are getting hungry.”
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