Badjaos prove tough; city gov’t seeks assistance

BY GLENDA SOLOGASTOA

Thursday, December 7, 2017

ILOILO City – The city government is seeking the assistance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to contain the influx of Badjaos most of whom turn to mendicancy.

The Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) has been tasked to round up the Badjaos and return them to Mindanao. Office chief Jeck Conlu, however, said the job proved to be difficult. The Badjaos keep on returning to the city.

The help of DSWD and the NCIP may be invaluable, said Conlu.

PSTMO has so far rounded up 73 Badjaos and a few Atis and sent them home.

“We will ask DSWD and NCIP kon ano ang mabulig nila. Kon city government lang, limited lang kita within the city,” said Conlu.

The PSTMO chief received reports that some Badjaos refused to return to Mindanao. They got down from the vehicles transporting them to the seaport in Dumangas, Iloilo where ships would  take them back home.

What makes this city attractive to mendicant Badjaos?

Ilonggos are kindhearted people, according to City Administrator Hernando Galvez

“We are charitable but we don’t want our kindness abused,” he stressed.

City Regulation Ordinance 2002-400 and Presidential Decree 1563 prohibit mendicancy. Begging and giving alms are punishable under the city ordinance. Mendicants are liable to a fine of P500, imprisonment of not more than a year, or both fine and imprisonment. On the other hand, giving alms is punishable by a fine of P500 or community service.

“I appeal to city residents. Please do not give alms to the Badjaos. You are encouraging them to keep on returning,” said Conlu.

Presidential Decree 1563 defines a mendicant as any person who has no visible and legal means of support, or lawful employment and who is physically able to work but neglects to apply himself to some lawful calling and instead uses begging as a means of living./PN