Badjaos rescued, sent home

BAGUIO CITY  – Intervention from the national government as to child registration, rescue operations and anti-mendicancy law is recommended fors several Badjaos found living in the streets, a report from the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) noted.

Coordination with the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), Muslim Affairs Office – Baguio and local government units frequented by said persons was also recommended.

Social Workers Liza Bulayungan and two others, in the report, said 14 Badjaos were rescued Saturday, May 28, through the joint effort of the police and their office. The five adult and nine children Badjaos were begging along Diego Silang and Session roads. They are from Zamboanga City and Basilan; but later migrated to Angeles City and San Fernando City, La Union.

Their ages range from one year to 60, the children have never been to school and all are not registered with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Accordingly, they came with intentions to beg as means of support due to lack of skills, and no employment opportunities at their former residences.  Continuous insurgency in Mindanao was their main excuse in travelling northward.

Begging as a crime, and exploitation of children beggars was explained but there was difficulty in communication as the Badjaos could hardly express themselves in Tagalog.

With DSWD-CAR shouldering the expenses, they were sent back to San Fernando, La Union after a light meal.

The social workers however recommend more interventions, rescue operations and strengthening of the information and education campaign on the Anti-Mendicancy Law. Interpreters of the Badjao dialect are also sought for easier communication.

By Julie G. Fianza

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