ILOILO City – The city government’s Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO), in coordination with the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) and City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), will once again arrest mendicant Badjaos.
Yesterday, the Badjaos were warned against begging. Sixty-two of them (composed of 13 families made up of 33 adults and 29 minors) were gathered at the covered gym in Jaro district and “oriented for the last time”, said PSTMO chief Jeck Conlu.
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.
Conlu said adult Badjaos arrested for mendicancy would be jailed while minors would be turned over to the CSWDO.
He also warned people against giving alms to beggars.
“If you want to help, give directly to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD),” said Conlu.
According to the PSTMO chief, some of the Badjaos that attended the orientation yesterday were among those that the city government arrested and deported to Mindanao last September 2018.
The Badjaos, widely known as “sea gypsies”, are an ethnic group scattered along the coastal areas of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan and some coastal municipalities of Zamboanga del Sur in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Because of the conflict between Muslim separatists and government troops and the lack of livelihood opportunities, many Badjaos left Mindanao./PN